Philosophers' Imprint 11:1-17 (2011)

Authors
Pekka Väyrynen
University of Leeds
Abstract
Some philosophers hold that so-called "thick" terms and concepts in ethics (such as 'cruel,' 'selfish,' 'courageous,' and 'generous') are contextually variable with respect to the valence (positive or negative) of the evaluations that they may be used to convey. Some of these philosophers use this variability claim to argue that thick terms and concepts are not inherently evaluative in meaning; rather their use conveys evaluations as a broadly pragmatic matter. I argue that one sort of putative examples of contextual variability in evaluative valence that are found in the literature fail to support the variability claim and that another sort of putative examples are open to a wide range of explanations that have different implications for the relationship between thick terms and concepts and evaluation. I conclude that considerations of contextual variability fail to settle whether thick terms and concepts are inherently evaluative in meaning. In closing I suggest a more promising line of research.
Keywords thick concepts  moral semantics  contextualism
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References found in this work BETA

Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and Other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
Ethics Without Principles.Jonathan Dancy - 2004 - Oxford University Press.
Literal Meaning.François Recanati - 2002 - Cambridge University Press.
The Language of Morals.Richard Mervyn Hare - 1952 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Dual Character Concepts.Kevin Reuter - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (1):e12557.
Perceptual Intuitionism.Robert Cowan - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 90 (1):164-193.
Thick Concepts.Debbie Roberts - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (8):677-688.
Thick Ethical Concepts.Pekka Väyrynen - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Values and Emotions.Christine Tappolet - 2015 - In Iwao Hirose & Jonas Olson (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Value Theory. Oxford University Press. pp. 80-95.

View all 12 citations / Add more citations

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