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David Plunkett
Dartmouth College
  1. Disagreement and the Semantics of Normative and Evaluative Terms.David Plunkett & Timothy Sundell - 2013 - Philosophers' Imprint 13 (23):1-37.
    In constructing semantic theories of normative and evaluative terms, philosophers have commonly deployed a certain type of disagreement -based argument. The premise of the argument observes the possibility of genuine disagreement between users of a certain normative or evaluative term, while the conclusion of the argument is that, however differently those speakers employ the term, they must mean the same thing by it. After all, if they did not, then they would not really disagree. We argue that in many of (...)
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  2. A Guided Tour Of Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics.David Plunkett & Herman Cappelen - 2020 - In Herman Cappelen, David Plunkett & Alexis Burgess (eds.), Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1-26.
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  3. Conceptual Ethics I.Alexis Burgess & David Plunkett - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (12):1091-1101.
    Which concepts should we use to think and talk about the world and to do all of the other things that mental and linguistic representation facilitates? This is the guiding question of the field that we call ‘conceptual ethics’. Conceptual ethics is not often discussed as its own systematic branch of normative theory. A case can nevertheless be made that the field is already quite active, with contributions coming in from areas as diverse as fundamental metaphysics and social/political philosophy. In (...)
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  4. Which Concepts Should We Use?: Metalinguistic Negotiations and The Methodology of Philosophy.David Plunkett - 2015 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (7-8):828-874.
    This paper is about philosophical disputes where the literal content of what speakers communicate concerns such object-level issues as ground, supervenience, or real definition. It is tempting to think that such disputes straightforwardly express disagreements about these topics. In contrast to this, I suggest that, in many such cases, the disagreement that is expressed is actually one about which concepts should be employed. I make this case as follows. First, I look at non-philosophical, everyday disputes where a speaker employs a (...)
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  5. Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics.Herman Cappelen, David Plunkett & Alexis Burgess (eds.) - 2019 - New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
    Conceptual engineering and conceptual ethics are branches of philosophy concerned with questions about how to assess and ameliorate our representational devices (such as concepts and words). It's a part of philosophy concerned with questions about which concepts we should use (and why), how concepts can be improved, when concepts should be abandoned, and how proposals for amelioration can be implemented. Central parts of the history of philosophy have engaged with these issues, but the focus of this volume is on applications (...)
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  6. Conceptual Ethics II.Alexis Burgess & David Plunkett - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (12):1102-1110.
    Which concepts should we use to think and talk about the world, and to do all of the other things that mental and linguistic representation facilitates? This is the guiding question of the field that we call ‘conceptual ethics’. Conceptual ethics is not often discussed as its own systematic branch of normative theory. A case can nevertheless be made that the field is already quite active, with contributions coming in from areas as diverse as fundamental metaphysics and social/political philosophy. In (...)
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  7. Metalinguistic Negotiation and Speaker Error.David Plunkett & Tim Sundell - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (1-2):142-167.
    In recent work, we have argued that a number of disputes of interest to philosophers – including some disputes amongst philosophers themselves – are metalinguistic negotiations. Prima facie, many of these disputes seem to concern worldly, non-linguistic issues directly. However, on our view, they in fact concern, in the first instance, normative questions about the use of linguistic expressions. This will strike many ordinary speakers as counterintuitive. In many of the disputes that we analyze as metalinguistic negotiations, speakers might quite (...)
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  8.  37
    Law, Morality, and Everything Else: General Jurisprudence as a Branch of Metanormative Inquiry.David Plunkett & Scott Shapiro - 2017 - Ethics 128 (1):37-68.
    In this article, we propose a novel account of general jurisprudence by situating it within the broader project of metanormative inquiry. We begin by showing how general jurisprudence is parallel to another well-known part of that project, namely, metaethics. We then argue that these projects all center on the same task: explaining how a certain part of thought, talk, and reality fits into reality overall. Metalegal inquiry aims to explain how legal thought, talk, and reality fit into reality. General jurisprudence (...)
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  9.  78
    On the Relation Between Conceptual Engineering and Conceptual Ethics.Alexis Burgess & David Plunkett - 2020 - Ratio 33 (4):281-294.
    In recent years, there has been growing discussion amongst philosophers about “conceptual engineering”. Put roughly, conceptual engineering concerns the assessment and improvement of concepts, or of other devices we use in thought and talk (e.g., words). This often involves attempts to modify our existing concepts (or other representational devices), and/or our practices of using them. This paper explores the relation between conceptual engineering and conceptual ethics, where conceptual ethics is taken to encompass normative and evaluative questions about concepts, words, and (...)
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  10. Conceptual History, Conceptual Ethics, and the Aims of Inquiry: A Framework for Thinking About the Relevance of the History/Genealogy of Concepts to Normative Inquiry.David Plunkett - 2016 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 3 (2):27-64.
    In this paper, I argue that facts about the history or genealogy of concepts (facts about what I call “conceptual history”) can matter for normative inquiry. I argue that normative and evaluative issues about concepts (such as issues about which concepts an agent should use, in a given context) matter for all forms of inquiry (including normative inquiry) and that conceptual history can help us when we engage in thinking about these normative and evaluative issues (which I call issues in (...)
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  11. Non-Consequentialism Demystified.Howard Nye, David Plunkett & John Ku - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15 (4):1-28.
    Morality seems important, in the sense that there are practical reasons — at least for most of us, most of the time — to be moral. A central theoretical motivation for consequentialism is that it appears clear that there are practical reasons to promote good outcomes, but mysterious why we should care about non-consequentialist moral considerations or how they could be genuine reasons to act. In this paper we argue that this theoretical motivation is mistaken, and that because many arguments (...)
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  12.  38
    Deliberative Indispensability and Epistemic Justification.Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett - 2015 - In Oxford Studies in Metaethics. Oxford University Press. pp. 104-133.
    Many of us care about the existence of ethical facts because they appear crucial to making sense of our practical lives. On one tempting line of thought, this idea can also play a central role in justifying our belief in those facts. David Enoch has developed this thought into a formidable new proposal in moral epistemology: that the deliberative indispensability of ethical facts gives us epistemic justification for believing in such facts. This chapter argues that Enoch’s proposal fails because it (...)
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  13. The Nature and Explanatory Ambitions of Metaethics.Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett - 2017 - In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. Routledge. pp. 1-28.
    This volume introduces a wide range of important views, questions, and controversies in and about contemporary metaethics. It is natural to ask: What, if anything, connects this extraordinary range of discussions? This introductory chapter aims to answer this question by giving an account of metaethics that shows it to be a unified theoretical activ- ity. According to this account, metaethics is a theoretical activity characterized by an explanatory goal. This goal is to explain how actual ethical thought and talk—and what (...)
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  14. Antipositivist Arguments From Legal Thought and Talk: The Metalinguistic Response.David Plunkett & Tim Sundell - 2014 - In Graham Hubbs & Douglas Lind (eds.), Pragmatism, Law, and Language. Routledge. pp. 56-75.
  15. Quasi-Expressivism About Statements of Law: A Hartian Theory.Stephen Finlay & David Plunkett - forthcoming - In John Gardner, Leslie Green & Brian Leiter (eds.), Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Law, vol. 3. Oxford University Press.
    Speech and thought about what the law is commonly function in practical ways, to guide or assess behavior. These functions have often been seen as problematic for legal positivism in the tradition of H.L.A. Hart. One recent response is to advance an expressivist analysis of legal statements (Toh), which faces its own, familiar problems. This paper advances a rival, positivist-friendly account of legal statements which we call “quasi-expressivist”, explicitly modeled after Finlay’s metaethical theory of moral statements. This consists in a (...)
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  16. Legal Positivism and the Moral Aim Thesis.David Plunkett - 2013 - Oxford Journal of Legal Studies 33 (3):563-605.
    According to Scott Shapiro’s Moral Aim Thesis, it is an essential feature of the law that it has a moral aim. In short, for Shapiro, this means that the law has the constitutive aim of providing morally good solutions to morally significant social problems in cases where other, less formal ways of guiding the activity of agents won’t work. In this article, I argue that legal positivists should reject the Moral Aim Thesis. In short, I argue that although there are (...)
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  17.  41
    A Positivist Route for Explaining How Facts Make Law.David Plunkett - 2012 - Legal Theory 18 (2):139-207.
    In “How Facts Make Law” and other recent work, Mark Greenberg argues that legal positivists cannot develop a viable constitutive account of law that meets what he calls the “the rational-relation requirement.” He argues that this gives us reason to reject positivism in favor of antipositivism. In this paper, I argue that Greenberg is wrong: positivists can in fact develop a viable constitutive account of law that meets the rational-relation requirement. I make this argument in two stages. First, I offer (...)
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  18.  25
    Normative Roles, Conceptual Variance, and Ardent Realism About Normativity.David Plunkett - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (5):509-534.
    In Choosing Normative Concepts, Eklund considers a “variance thesis” about our most fundamental (and seemingly most “authoritative”) normative concepts. This thesis raises the threat of an alarming symmetry between different sets of normative concepts. If this symmetry holds, it would be incompatible with “ardent realism” about normativity. Eklund argues that the ardent realist should appeal to the idea of “referential normativity” in response to this challenge. I argue that, even if Eklund is right in his core arguments on this front, (...)
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  19.  59
    Negotiating the Meaning of “Law”: The Metalinguistic Dimension of the Dispute Over Legal Positivism.David Plunkett - 2016 - Legal Theory 22 (3-4):205-275.
    One of the central debates in legal philosophy is the debate over legal positivism. Roughly, positivists say that law is ultimately grounded in social facts alone, whereas antipositivists say it is ultimately grounded in both social facts and moral facts. In this paper, I argue that philosophers involved in the dispute over legal positivism sometimes employ distinct concepts when they use the term “law” and pick out different things in the world using these concepts. Because of this, what positivists say (...)
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  20.  28
    Reasons Internalism.Errol Lord & David Plunkett - 2017 - In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. Routledge. pp. 324-339.
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  21. Constructing Protagorean Objectivity.Errnanno Bencivenga, Nadeem Hussein, Christine Korsgaard, James Lenman, Peter de Mameffe, James Nickel, David Plunkett, James Pryor, Andrews Reath & Michael Ridge - 2012 - In Jimmy Lenman & Yonatan Shemmer (eds.), Constructivism in Practical Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
    At least since the late Early Modern period, the Holy Grail of ethics, for many philosophers, has been to say how ethical values could have a kind of protagorean objectivity: values are to be both fully objective as values and yet depend on us by their very nature. More than any other contemporary foundational approach it is “constructivist” theories, such as those due to Rawls, Scanlon, and Korsgaard, which have consciously sought to explain how protagorean objectivity is a real possibility. (...)
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  22.  72
    Dworkin's Interpretivism and the Pragmatics of Legal Disputes.David Plunkett & Timothy Sundell - 2013 - Legal Theory 19 (3):242-281.
    One of Ronald Dworkin's most distinctive claims in legal philosophy is that law is an interpretative concept, a special kind of concept whose correct application depends neither on fixed criteria nor on an instance-identifying decision procedure but rather on the normative or evaluative facts that best justify the total set of practices in which that concept is used. The main argument that Dworkin gives for interpretivism about some conceptis a disagreement-based argument. We argue here that Dworkin's disagreement-based argument relies on (...)
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  23.  24
    Justice, Non-Human Animals, and the Methodology of Political Philosophy.David Plunkett - 2016 - Jurisprudence 7 (1):1-29.
    One important trend in political philosophy is to hold that non-human animals don't directly place demands of justice on us. Another important trend is to give considerations of justice normative priority in our general normative theorising about social/political institutions. This situation is problematic, given the actual ethical standing of non-human animals. Either we need a theory of justice that gives facts about non-human animals a non-derivative explanatory role in the determination of facts about what justice involves, or else we should (...)
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  24.  5
    Normative Roles, Conceptual Variance, and Ardent Realism About Normativity.David Plunkett - 2020 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 63 (5):509-534.
    ABSTRACT In Choosing Normative Concepts, Eklund considers a “variance thesis” about our most fundamental normative concepts. This thesis raises the threat of an alarming symmetry between different sets of normative concepts. If this symmetry holds, it would be incompatible with “ardent realism” about normativity. Eklund argues that the ardent realist should appeal to the idea of “referential normativity” in response to this challenge. I argue that, even if Eklund is right in his core arguments on this front, many other important (...)
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  25. Expressivism, Representation, and the Nature of Conceptual Analysis.David Plunkett - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (1):15-31.
    Philosophers often hold that the aim of conceptual analysis is to discover the representational content of a given concept such as freewill, belief, or law. In From Metaphysics to Ethics and other recent work, Frank Jackson has developed a theory of conceptual analysis that is one of the most advanced systematizations of this widespread idea. I argue that this influential way of characterizing conceptual analysis is too narrow. I argue that it is possible that an expressivist account could turn out (...)
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  26.  48
    The Planning Theory of Law I: The Nature of Legal Institutions.David Plunkett - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (2):149-158.
    This paper and its companion provide a general introduction to Scott Shapiro’s Planning Theory of Law as developed in his recent book Legality. The Planning Theory encompasses both an account of the nature of legal institutions and an account of the nature of legal norms. This first paper concerns the account of legal institutions. The second concerns the account of legal norms.
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  27. Meaning, Decision, and Norms: Themes From the Work of Allan Gibbard.Billy Dunaway & David Plunkett (eds.) - forthcoming - Ann Arbor, Michigan: Maize Books.
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  28. The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics.Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.) - 2017 - Routledge.
    This Handbook surveys the contemporary state of the burgeoning field of metaethics. Forty-four chapters, all written exclusively for this volume, provide expert introductions to: 1) the central research programs that frame metaethical discussions, 2) the central explanatory challenges, resources, and strategies that inform contemporary work in those research programs, an 3) debates over the status of metaethics, and the appropriate methods to use in metaethical inquiry. This is essential reading for anyone with a serious interest in metaethics, from those coming (...)
     
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  29.  44
    Debate: Anger, Fitting Attitudes, and Srinivasan’s Category of “Affective Injustice”.David Plunkett - 2021 - Journal of Political Philosophy 29 (1):117-131.
    Journal of Political Philosophy, EarlyView.
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  30.  12
    Conceptual Truths, Evolution, and Reliability About Authoritative Normativity.David Plunkett - 2020 - Jurisprudence 11 (2):169-212.
    An important challenge for non-naturalistic moral realism is that it seems hard to reconcile it with the fact of our reliability in forming correct moral beliefs. Some philosophers (inc...
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  31.  20
    Evaluation Turned on Itself: The Vindicatory Circularity Challenge to the Conceptual Ethics of Normativity.David Plunkett & Tristram McPherson - forthcoming - In Oxford Studies in Metaethics.
    The conceptual ethics of normativity involves normative reflection on normative thought and talk. One motive for engaging in this project is to seek to either vindicate or improve one’s existing normative concepts. This paper clarifies and addresses a deep challenge to the conceptual ethics of normativity, when it is motivated in this way. The challenge arises from the fact that we need to use some of our own normative concepts in order to evaluate our normative concepts. This might seem objectionably (...)
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  32.  52
    Metaethics and the Conceptual Ethics of Normativity.David Plunkett & Tristram McPherson - forthcoming - In Conceptual Ethics and Conceptual Engineering. pp. 274-303.
    This chapter explores two central questions in the conceptual ethics of normative inquiry. The first is whether to orient one’s normative inquiry around folk normative concepts (like KNOWLEDGE or IMMORAL) or around theoretical normative concepts (like ADEQUATE EPISTEMIC JUSTIFICATION or PRO TANTO PRACTICAL REASON). The second is whether to orient one’s normative inquiry around concepts whose normative authority is especially accessible to us (such as OUGHT ALL THINGS CONSIDERED), or around concepts whose extension is especially accessible to us (such as (...)
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  33.  40
    The Planning Theory of Law II: The Nature of Legal Norms.David Plunkett - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (2):159-168.
    This paper and its companion (‘‘The Planning Theory of Law I: The Nature of Legal Institutions’’) provide a general introduction to Scott Shapiro’s Planning Theory of Law as developed in his recent book Legality. The Planning Theory encompasses both an account of the nature of legal institutions and an account of the nature of legal norms. The first paper concerns the account of legal institutions. This paper concerns the account of legal norms.
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  34.  9
    The Raven's Paradox and Negative Existential Judgments About Evidence.David Plunkett - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    In this paper, I provide a new argument in support of a concessive response to the Ravens Paradox. The argument I offer stems from Mark Schroeder's Gricean explanation for why existential judgments about normative reasons for action are unreliable. In short, I argue that Schroeder's work suggests that, in the case of the Ravens Paradox, people are running together the issue of what's assertible (in an ordinary context) about evidence with what's true about evidence. Once these issues are pulled apart, (...)
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