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Profile: Neil Sinclair (Nottingham University)
  1.  63
    Conceptual Role Semantics and the Reference of Moral Concepts.Neil Sinclair - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy (2).
    This paper examines the prospects for a conceptual or functional role theory of moral concepts. It is argued that such an account is well-placed to explain both the irreducibility and practicality of moral concepts. Several versions of conceptual role semantics for moral concepts are distinguished, depending on whether the concept-constitutive conceptual roles are wide or narrow normative or non-normative and purely doxastic or conative. It is argued that the most plausible version of conceptual role semantics for moral concepts involves only (...)
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  2. Promotionalism, Motivationalism and Reasons to Perform Physically Impossible Actions.Neil Sinclair - 2012 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15 (5):647-659.
    In this paper I grant the Humean premise that some reasons for action are grounded in the desires of the agents whose reasons they are. I then consider the question of the relation between the reasons and the desires that ground them. According to promotionalism , a desire that p grounds a reason to φ insofar as A’s φing helps promote p . According to motivationalism a desire that p grounds a reason to φ insofar as it explains why, in (...)
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  3. Reasons, Inescapability and Persuasion.Neil Sinclair - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2823-2844.
    This paper outlines a new metasemantic theory of moral reason statements, focused on explaining how the reasons thus stated can be inescapable. The motivation for the theory is in part that it can explain this and other phenomena concerning moral reasons. The account also suggests a general recipe for explanations of conceptual features of moral reason statements. (Published with Open Access.).
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  4. Expressivism and the Value of Truth.Neil Sinclair - 2012 - Philosophia 40 (4):877-883.
    This paper is a reply to Michael Lynch's "Truth, Value and Epistemic Expressivism" in Philosophy and Phenomenological Research for 2009. It argues that Lynch's argument against expressivism fails because of an ambiguity in the employed notion of an 'epistemically disengaged standpoint'.
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  5. Metaethics, Teleosemantics and the Function of Moral Judgements.Neil Sinclair - 2012 - Biology and Philosophy 27 (5):639-662.
    This paper applies the theory of teleosemantics to the issue of moral content. Two versions of teleosemantics are distinguished: input-based and output-based. It is argued that applying either to the case of moral judgements generates the conclusion that such judgements have both descriptive (belief-like) and directive (desire-like) content, intimately entwined. This conclusion directly validates neither descriptivism nor expressivism, but the application of teleosemantics to moral content does leave the descriptivist with explanatory challenges which the expressivist does not face. Since teleosemantics (...)
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  6. On the Connection Between Normative Reasons and the Possibility of Acting for Those Reasons.Neil Sinclair - 2016 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 19 (5):1211-1223.
    According to Bernard Williams, if it is true that A has a normative reason to Φ then it must be possible that A should Φ for that reason. This claim is important both because it restricts the range of reasons which agents can have and because it has been used as a premise in an argument for so-called ‘internalist’ theories of reasons. In this paper I rebut an apparent counterexamples to Williams’ claim: Schroeder’s example of Nate. I argue that this (...)
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  7. Moral Expressivism and Sentential Negation.Neil Sinclair - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 152 (3):385-411.
    This paper advances three necessary conditions on a successful account of sentential negation. First, the ability to explain the constancy of sentential meaning across negated and unnegated contexts (the Fregean Condition). Second, the ability to explain why sentences and their negations are inconsistent, and inconsistent in virtue of the meaning of negation (the Semantic Condition). Third, the ability of the account to generalize regardless of the topic of the negated sentence (the Generality Condition). The paper discusses three accounts of negation (...)
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  8. Moral Realism, Face-Values and Presumptions.Neil Sinclair - 2012 - Analytic Philosophy 53 (2):158-179.
    Many philosophers argue that the face-value of moral practice provides presumptive support to moral realism. This paper analyses such arguments into three steps. (1) Moral practice has a certain face-value, (2) only realism can vindicate this face value, and (3) the face-value needs vindicating. Two potential problems with such arguments are discussed. The first is taking the relevant face-value to involve explicitly realist commitments; the second is underestimating the power of non-realist strategies to vindicate that face-value. Case studies of each (...)
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  9. The Moral Belief Problem.Neil Sinclair - 2006 - Ratio 19 (2):249–260.
    The moral belief problem is that of reconciling expressivism in ethics with both minimalism in the philosophy of language and the syntactic discipline of moral sentences. It is argued that the problem can be solved by distinguishing minimal and robust senses of belief, where a minimal belief is any state of mind expressed by sincere assertoric use of a syntactically disciplined sentence and a robust belief is a minimal belief with some additional property R. Two attempts to specify R are (...)
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  10. Expressivist Explanations.Neil Sinclair - 2012 - Journal of Moral Philosophy 9 (2):147-177.
    In this paper I argue that the common practice of employing moral predicates as explaining phrases can be accommodated on an expressivist account of moral practice. This account does not treat moral explanations as in any way second-rate or derivative, since it subsumes moral explanations under the general theory of program explanations (as defended by Jackson and Pettit). It follows that the phenomenon of moral explanations cannot be used to adjudicate the debate between expressivism and its rivals.
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  11. Recent Work in Expressivism.Neil Sinclair - 2009 - Analysis 69 (1):136-147.
    This paper is a concise survey of recent expressivist theories of discourse, focusing on the ethical case. For each topic discussed recent trends are summarised and suggestions for further reading provided. Issues covered include: the nature of the moral attitude; ‘hybrid’ views according to which moral judgements express both beliefs and attitudes; the quasi-realist programmes of Simon Blackburn and Allan Gibbard; the problem of creeping minimalism; the nature of the ‘expression’ relation; the Frege-Geach problem; the problem of wishful thinking; the (...)
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  12. Free Thinking for Expressivists.Neil Sinclair - 2008 - Philosophical Papers 37 (2):263-287.
    This paper elaborates and defends an expressivist account of the claims of mind-independence embedded in ordinary moral thought. In response to objections from Zangwill and Jenkins it is argued that the expressivist 'internal reading' of such claims is compatible with their conceptual status and that the only 'external reading' available doesn't commit expressivisists to any sort of subjectivism. In the process a 'commitment-theoretic' account of the semantics of conditionals and negations is defended.
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  13. On Standing One's Ground.Neil Sinclair - 2014 - Analysis 74 (3):422-431.
    I provide a positive expressivist account of the permissibility of ‘standing one’s ground’ in some cases of moral conflict, based in part on an illustrative analogy with political disputes. This account suffices to undermine Enoch’s recent argument against expressivism.
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  14. The Explanationist Argument for Moral Realism.Neil Sinclair - 2011 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (1):1-24.
    In this paper I argue that the explanationist argument in favour of moral realism fails. According to this argument, the ability of putative moral properties to feature in good explanations provides strong evidence for, or entails, the metaphysical claims of moral realism. Some have rejected this argument by denying that moral explanations are ever good explanations. My criticism is different. I argue that even if we accept that moral explanations are (sometimes) good explanations the metaphysical claims of realism do not (...)
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  15. Propositional Clothing and Belief.Neil Sinclair - 2007 - Philosophical Quarterly 57 (228):342-362.
    Moral discourse is propositionally clothed, that is, it exhibits those features – such as the ability of its sentences to intelligibly embed in conditionals and other unasserted contexts – that have been taken by some philosophers to be constitutive of discourses that express propositions. If there is nothing more to a mental state being a belief than it being characteristically expressed by sentences that are propositionally clothed then the version of expressivism which accepts that moral discourse is propositionally clothed (‘quasi-realism’) (...)
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  16.  4
    Review of "Facts and Values: The Ethics and Metaphysics of Normativity" G. Marchetti and S. Marchetti (Eds.). [REVIEW]Neil Sinclair - 2017 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2017.
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  17. Expressivism and the Practicality of Moral Convictions.Neil Sinclair - 2007 - Journal of Value Inquiry 41 (2-4):201-220.
    Many expressivists have employed a claim about the practicality of morality in support of their view that moral convictions are not purely descriptive mental states. In this paper I argue that all extant arguments of this form fail. I distinguish several versions of such arguments and argue that in each case either the sense of practicality the argument employs is too weak, in which case there is no reason to think that descriptive states cannot be practical or the sense of (...)
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  18. Two Kinds of Naturalism in Ethics.Neil Sinclair - 2006 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 9 (4):417 - 439.
    What are the conditions on a successful naturalistic account of moral properties? In this paper I discuss one such condition: the possibility of moral concepts playing a role in good empirical theories on a par with those of the natural and social sciences. I argue that Peter Railton’s influential account of moral rightness fails to meet this condition, and thus is only viable in the hands of a naturalist who doesn’t insist on it. This conclusion generalises to all versions of (...)
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  19.  3
    Review of "Speech and Morality" by T. Cuneo. [REVIEW]Neil Sinclair - 2017 - Analysis 2017.
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  20.  29
    Evolution and the Missing Link (in Debunking Arguments).Uri D. Leibowitz & Neil Sinclair - forthcoming - In Michael Ruse & Robert J. Richards (eds.), Cambridge Handbook to Evolutionary Ethics. Cambridge University Press.
  21. Review: Kinds of Reasons – Maria Alvarez. [REVIEW]Neil Sinclair - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (245):873-875.
  22.  2
    Speech and Morality.Neil Sinclair - forthcoming - Analysis:anx099.
    © The Author 2017. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of The Analysis Trust. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.comNicholas Sturgeon memorably asked: ‘What difference does it make whether moral realism is true?’ His question was prompted by the rise of the metaethical upstart quasi-realism, which urges that an expressivist account of moral discourse is compatible with most, if not all, of its important contours. In his invigorating new book, Cuneo offers a startling new answer to Sturgeon’s (...)
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  23.  4
    Conceptual Role Semantics and the Reference of Moral Concepts.Neil Sinclair - 2017 - European Journal of Philosophy 25 (2).
    This paper examines the prospects for a conceptual or functional role theory of moral concepts. It is argued that such an account is well-placed to explain both the irreducibility and practicality of moral concepts. Several versions of conceptual role semantics for moral concepts are distinguished, depending on whether the concept-constitutive conceptual roles are wide or narrow normative or non-normative and purely doxastic or conative. It is argued that the most plausible version of conceptual role semantics for moral concepts involves only (...)
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  24.  98
    Moral Explanations.Neil Sinclair - 2013 - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Blackwell.
    "The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice." (Martin Luther King) -/- A moral explanation is an explanation of a particular or type of event (or fact or state of affairs) that features moral terms in the explaining phrase. Here are some examples. First, one way of the above quote is as the claim that, in the broad sweep of history, societies tend toward more just institutions, and that they do so precisely because these institutions (...)
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  25.  86
    Review: Reasons From Within: Desires and Values – Alan H. Goldman. [REVIEW]Neil Sinclair - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (243):427-429.
  26.  60
    Comments on Gibbard's "Thinking How to Live". [REVIEW]Simon Blackburn & Neil Sinclair - 2006 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72 (3):699 - 706.
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  27.  52
    Review: Hume, Reason, and Morality: A Legacy of Contradiction. [REVIEW]Neil Sinclair - 2007 - Mind 116 (463):733-736.
  28.  8
    The Pretensions of Moral Realism.Neil Sinclair - unknown
    Many philosophers argue that the face-value of moral practice provides presumptive support to moral realism. This paper analyses such arguments into three steps. Moral practice has a certain face-value, only realism can vindicate this face value, and the face-value needs vindicating. Two potential problems with such arguments are discussed. The first is taking the relevant face-value to involve explicitly realist commitments; the second is underestimating the power of non-realist strategies to vindicate that face-value. Case studies of each of these errors (...)
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  29.  7
    Kinds of Reasons – Maria Alvarez.Neil Sinclair - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (245):873-875.
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  30.  27
    Review of Shaun Nichols, Sentimental Rules: On the Natural Foundations of Moral Judgment[REVIEW]Neil Sinclair - 2005 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2005 (10).
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  31.  2
    Comments on Gibbard's Thinking How To Live.Simon Blackburn & Neil Sinclair - 2006 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72 (3):699-706.
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  32.  79
    Explanation in Ethics and Mathematics: Debunking and Dispensability.Uri D. Leibowitz & Neil Sinclair (eds.) - 2016 - Oxford University Press UK.
    How far should our realism extend? For many years philosophers of mathematics and philosophers of ethics have worked independently to address the question of how best to understand the entities apparently referred to by mathematical and ethical talk. But the similarities between their endeavours are not often emphasised. This book provides that emphasis. In particular, it focuses on two types of argumentative strategies that have been deployed in both areas. The first—debunking arguments—aims to put pressure on realism by emphasising the (...)
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  33. Introduction: Explanation in Ethics and Mathematics.Neil Sinclair & Uri D. Leibowitz - 2016 - In Uri D. Leibowitz & Neil Sinclair (eds.), Explanation in Ethics and Mathematics: Debunking and Dispensability. Oxford University Press.
    Are moral properties intellectually indispensable, and, if so, what consequences does this have for our understanding of their nature, and of our talk and knowledge of them? Are mathematical objects intellectually indispensable, and, if so, what consequences does this have for our understanding of their nature, and of our talk and knowledge of them? What similarities are there, if any, in the answers to the first two questions? Can comparison of the two cases shed light on which answers are most (...)
     
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  34. The Naturalistic Fallacy.Neil Sinclair (ed.) - forthcoming - Cambridge University Press.
     
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