Pragmatists have traditionally been enemies of representationalism but friends of naturalism, when naturalism is understood to pertain to human subjects, in the sense of Hume and Nietzsche. In this volume Huw Price presents his distinctive version of this traditional combination, as delivered in his René Descartes Lectures at Tilburg University in 2008. Price contrasts his view with other contemporary forms of philosophical naturalism, comparing it with other pragmatist and neo-pragmatist views such as those of Robert Brandom and Simon Blackburn. Linking (...) their different 'expressivist' programmes, Price argues for a radical global expressivism that combines key elements from both. With Paul Horwich and Michael Williams, Brandom and Blackburn respond to Price in new essays. Price replies in the closing essay, emphasising links between his views and those of Wilfrid Sellars. The volume will be of great interest to advanced students of philosophy of language and metaphysics. (shrink)
We develop a novel solution to the negation version of the Frege-Geach problem by taking up recent insights from the bilateral programme in logic. Bilateralists derive the meaning of negation from a primitive *B-type* inconsistency involving the attitudes of assent and dissent. Some may demand an explanation of this inconsistency in simpler terms, but we argue that bilateralism’s assumptions are no less explanatory than those of *A-type* semantics that only require a single primitive attitude, but must stipulate inconsistency elsewhere. Based (...) on these insights, we develop a version of B-type expressivism called *inferential expressivism*. This is a novel semantic framework that characterises meanings by inferential roles that define which *attitudes* one can *infer* from the use of terms. We apply this framework to normative vocabulary, thereby solving the Frege-Geach problem generally and comprehensively. Our account moreover includes a semantics for epistemic modals, thereby also explaining normative terms under epistemic modals. (shrink)
What is morality? In Practical Expressivism, I argue that morality is a purely natural interpersonal co-ordination device, whereby human beings express their attitudes in order to influence the attitudes and actions of others. -/- The ultimate goal of these expressions is to find acceptable ways of living together. This 'expressivist' model for understanding morality faces well-known challenges concerning 'saving the appearances' of morality, because morality presents itself to us as a practice of objective discovery, not pure expression. -/- This (...) book demonstrates how a properly developed expressivist view can overcome this objection, by showing that even if moral practice is fundamentally expressive, it can still come to possess those features that make it appear objective (features such as talk and thought of moral disagreement, truth and belief, and the applicability of logical notions to moral sentences). The key to this development is to emphasise the unique and intricate practical role that morality plays in our lives. Practical expressivism is also practical in the further sense that it provides repeatable patterns that expressivists can deploy in coming to understand the apparently objective features of morality. (shrink)
Expressivists explain the expression relation which obtains between sincere moral assertion and the conative or affective attitude thereby expressed by appeal to the relation which obtains between sincere assertion and belief. In fact, they often explicitly take the relation between moral assertion and their favored conative or affective attitude to be exactly the same as the relation between assertion and the belief thereby expressed. If this is correct, then we can use the identity of the expression relation in the two (...) cases to test the expressivist account as a descriptive or hermeneutic account of moral discourse. I formulate one such test, drawing on a standard explanation of Moore's paradox. I show that if expressivism is correct as a descriptive account of moral discourse, then we should expect versions of Moore's paradox where we explicitly deny that we possess certain affective or conative attitudes. I then argue that the constructions that mirror Moore's paradox are not incoherent. It follows that expressivism is either incorrect as a hermeneutic account of moral discourse or that the expression relation which holds between sincere moral assertion and affective or conative attitudes is not identical to the relation which holds between sincere non-moral assertion and belief. A number of objections are canvassed and rejected. (shrink)
In this essay, we extend earlier inferentialist-expressivist treatments of traditional logical, semantic, modal, and representational vocabulary (Brandom 1994, 2008, 2015; Peregrin 2014) to explanatory vocabulary. From this perspective, Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) appears to be an obvious starting point. In its simplest formulation, IBE has the form: A best explains why B, B; so A. It thereby captures one of the central inferential features of explanation. An inferentialist-expressivist treatment of “best explains” would treat it as a logical operator. (...) Analogous to the inferentialist-expressivist treatment of other logical operators, this essay aims to provide introduction and elimination rules for “best explains.” Indeed, by exhibiting a form of detachment, IBE superficially looks like an elimination rule. The sequent calculus LEA+, described in Section 5 below, makes good on this intuition. By showing how “A best explains why B” is related to the underlying, scientific inference “A, so B,” we can purchase the inference ticket of IBE for no more than the cost of science’s material inferences. (shrink)
Expressivists about normative thought and discourse traditionally deny that there are nondeflationary normative propositions. However, it has recently been suggested that expressivists might avoid a number of problems by providing a theory of normative propositions compatible with expressivism. This paper explores the prospects for developing an expressivist theory of propositions within the framework of cognitive act theories of propositions. First, I argue that the only extant expressivist theory of cognitive propositions—Michael Ridge's ‘ecumenical expressivist’ theory—fails to explain identity conditions for (...) normative propositions. Second, I argue that this failure motivates a general constraint—the ‘unity requirement’—that any expressivist theory of propositions must provide a unified nonrepresentational explanation of that in virtue of which propositional attitudes have the content that they have. Third, I argue that conceptual role accounts of content provide a promising framework in which to develop an expressivist theory of cognitive propositions. (shrink)
The expressivist advances a view about how we explain the meaning of a fragment of language, such as claims about what we morally ought to do. Critics evaluate expressivism on those terms. This is a serious mistake. We don’t just use that fragment of language in isolation. We make claims about what we morally, legally, rationally, and prudentially ought to do. To account for this linguistic phenomenon, the expressivist owes us an account not just of each fragment of language, (...) but of how they weave together into a broader tapestry. I argue that expressivists face a dilemma in doing so: either they fail to explain the univocality of terms like 'ought', or they fail to explain when normative statements are and aren't inconsistent. (shrink)
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 (...) descriptivist, “rule-relational” semantics combined with a pragmatic account of the expressive and practical functions of legal discourse. We argue that this approach is at least as well-equipped as expressivism to explain the motivational and prescriptive features of “internal” legal statements, as well as a fundamental kind of legal disagreement, while being better positioned to account for various “external” uses of the same language. We develop this theory in a Hartian framework, and in the final part of the paper argue (particularly against Toh’s expressivist interpretation) that Hart’s own views in The Concept of Law are best reconstructed along such quasi-expressivist lines. (shrink)
Ontological expressivism is the view that ontological existence claims express non-cognitive mental states. I develop a version of ontological expressivism that is modeled after Gibbard’s (2003) norm-expressivism. I argue that, when speakers assess whether, say, composite objects exist, they rely on assumptions with regard to what is required for composition to occur. These assumptions guide their assessment, similar to how norms may guide the assessment of normative propositions. Against this backdrop, I argue that “some objects have parts”, (...) uttered in the context of an ontological disagreement, expresses a noncognitive disposition to assess the truth of propositions by using only rules of assessment according to which the proposition that some objects have parts is to be evaluated as true. (shrink)
Simple taste predications come with an `acquaintance requirement': they require the speaker to have had a certain kind of first-hand experience with the object of predication. For example, if I tell you that the crème caramel is delicious, you would ordinarily assume that I have actually tasted the crème caramel and am not simply relying on the testimony of others. The present essay argues in favor of a lightweight expressivist account of the acquaintance requirement. This account consists of a recursive (...) semantics and an account of assertion; it is compatible with a number of different accounts of truth and content, including contextualism, relativism, and purer forms of expressivism. The principal argument in favor of this account is that it correctly predicts a wide range of data concerning how the acquaintance requirement interacts with Boolean connectives, generalized quantifiers, epistemic modals, and attitude verbs. (shrink)
Mark Schroeder has argued that all reasonable forms of inconsistency of attitude consist of having the same attitude type towards a pair of inconsistent contents (A-type inconsistency). We suggest that he is mistaken in this, offering a number of intuitive examples of pairs of distinct attitudes types with consistent contents which are intuitively inconsistent (B-type inconsistency). We further argue that, despite the virtues of Schroeder's elegant A-type expressivist semantics, B-type inconsistency is in many ways the more natural choice in developing (...) an expressivist account of moral discourse. We close by showing how to adapt ordinary formality-based accounts of logicality to define a B-type account of logical inconsistency and distinguish it from both semantic and pragmatic inconsistency. In sum, we provide a roadmap of how to develop a successful B-type expressivism. (shrink)
According to traditional logical expressivism, logical operators allow speakers to explicitly endorse claims that are already implicitly endorsed in their discursive practice — endorsed in virtue of that practice’s having instituted certain logical relations. Here, I propose a different version of logical expressivism, according to which the expressive role of logical operators is explained without invoking logical relations at all, but instead in terms of the expression of discursive-practical attitudes. In defense of this alternative, I present a deflationary (...) account of the expressive role of vocabulary by which we ascribe logical relations. (shrink)
Consider the claim that openmindedness is an epistemic virtue, the claim that true belief is epistemically valuable, and the claim that one epistemically ought to cleave to one’s evidence. These are examples of what I’ll call “ epistemic discourse.” In this paper I’ll propose and defend a view called “convention-relativism about epistemic discourse.” In particular, I’ll argue that convention-relativismis superior to its main rival, expressivism about epistemic discourse. Expressivism and conventionalism both jibe with anti-realism about epistemic normativity, which (...) is motivated by appeal to philosophical naturalism. Convention-relativism says that epistemic discourse describes how things stands relative to a conventional set of “ epistemic ” values; such discourse is akin to normative discourse relative to the conventional rules of a club. I defend conventionalism by appeal to a “reverse open question argument,” which says, pace expressivism, that epistemic discourse leaves the relevant normative questions open. (shrink)
This paper addresses the “creeping minimalism” challenge to quasi-realist forms of expressivism by arguing that the solution suggested by Dreier doesn’t work and proposing an alternative solution based on the different inferential roles of ethical and descriptive judgments.
Epistemic expressivism is the application of a nexus of ideas, which is prominent in ethical theory (more specifically, metaethics), to parallel issues in epistemological theory (more specifically, metaepistemology). Here, in order to help those new to the debate come to grips with epistemic expressivism and recent discussions of it, I first briefly present this nexus of ideas as it occurs in ethical expressivism. Then, I explain why and how some philosophers have sought to extend it to a (...) version of epistemic expressivism. Finally, I consider a number of objections and replies with the aim of giving the reader the tools needed to begin to evaluate the promise and prospects of epistemic expressivism. (shrink)
Michael Ridge argues that metaethical expressivism can avoid its most worrisome problems by going ‘Ecumenical’. Ridge emphasizes that he aims to develop expressivism at the level of metasemantics rather than at the level of semantics. This is supposed to allow him to avoid a mentalist semantics of attitudes and instead offer an orthodox, truth-conditional or propositional semantics. However, I argue that Ridge's theory remains committed to mentalist semantics, and that his move to go metasemantic doesn't bring any clear (...) advantages to the debate between expressivism and its opponents. (shrink)
One’s account of the meaning of ethical sentences should fit – roughly, as part to whole – with one’s account of the meaning of sentences in general. When we ask, though, where one widely discussed account of the meaning of ethical sentences fits with more general accounts of meaning, the answer is frustratingly unclear. The account I have in mind is the sort of metaethical expressivism inspired by Ayer, Stevenson, and Hare, and defended and worked out in more detail (...) recently by Blackburn, Gibbard, and others. So, my first aim (§1) in this paper is to pose this question about expressivism’s commitments in the theory of meaning and to characterize the answer I think is most natural, given the place expressivist accounts attempt to occupy metaethics. This involves appeal to an ideationalist account of meaning. Unfortunately for the expressivist, however, this answer generates a problem; it’s my second aim (§2) to articulate this problem. Then, my third aim (§3) is to argue that this problem doesn’t extend to the sort of account of the meaning of ethical claims that I favor, which is like expressivism in rejecting a representationalist order of semantic explanation but unlike expressivism in basing an alternative order of semantic explanation on inferential role rather than expressive function. (shrink)
There is a wide-spread belief amongst theorists of mind and language. This is that in order to understand the relation between language, thought, and reality we need a theory of meaning and content, that is, a normative, formal science of meaning, which is an extension and theoretical deepening of folk ideas about meaning. This book argues that this is false, offering an alternative idea: The form of a theory that illuminates the relation of language, thought, and reality is a theory (...) of language agency. In a nutshell, the theory of language agency is a theory of competence, without being a theory of understanding or grasping rules. It is a theory of cognitive structure and language production. This theory distils all there is to say about language, thought, and reality. It does not supplement a theory of truth-conditions or semantic norms. It is not the explanation of how a speaker, qua cognitive system causally embedded in a larger reality, is able to use a language with some pre-existing semantic characterization. There is no pre-existing semantic characterization. Nevertheless, there are facts of meaning, as good as any other facts. The dissolution of the theory of meaning is accompanied by another disappearance. That is the disappearance of metaphysical questions in a number of domains. Once we complete the theory of language agency, then just as theoretical questions about meaning disappear, certain theoretical questions about existence disappear. Having provided a theory of the language agency for talk of meaning, fact, property, relation, and proposition, there is no question left over about what meanings, facts, properties, relations, and propositions are. There is no theory to be given of their natures. This is not because they have primitive irreducible natures. Rather it is because, in a sense to be clarified in this work, they lack natures. I call this approach to language agency Global Expressivism. That is because it generalizes some of the insights brought to the study of value-language by expressivists. However, it removes these insights from the clouding affects of attempting to make expressivism a semantic theory. Expressivism about value fails as a semantic theory of value talk. However, global expressivism can succeed as a theory of all talk because it is not a semantic theory but a theory of language agency, wherein the theory of meaning is replaced by a theory of talk about meaning. (shrink)
It is often claimed that there is an explanatory divide between an expressivist account of normative discourse and a realist conception of normativity: more precisely, that expressivism and realism offer conflicting explanations of (i) the metaphysical structure of the normative realm, (ii) the connection between normative judgment and motivation, (iii) our normative beliefs and any convergence thereof, or (iv) the content of normative thoughts and claims. In this paper I argue that there need be no such explanatory conflict. Given (...) a minimalist approach to the relevant metaphysical and semantic notions, expressivism is compatible with any explanation that would be acceptable as a general criterion for realism. (shrink)
The basic idea of expressivism is that for some sentences ‘P’, believing that P is not just a matter of having an ordinary descriptive belief. This is a way of capturing the idea that the meaning of some sentences either exceeds their factual/descriptive content or doesn’t consist in any particular factual/descriptive content at all, even in context. The paradigmatic application for expressivism is within metaethics, and holds that believing that stealing is wrong involves having some kind of desire-like (...) attitude, with world-tomind direction of fit, either in place of, or in addition to, being in a representational state of mind with mind-to-world direction of fit. Because expressivists refer to the state of believing that P as the state of mind ‘expressed’ by ‘P’, this view can also be described as the view that ‘stealing is wrong’ expresses a state of mind that involves a desire-like attitude instead of, or in addition to, a representational state of mind. According to some expressivists - unrestrained expressivists, as I’ll call them - there need be no special relationship among the different kinds of state of mind that can be expressed by sentences. Pick your favorite state of mind, the unrestrained expressivist allows, and there could, at least in principle, be a sentence that expressed it. Expressivists who seem to have been unrestrained plausibly include Ayer in Language, Truth, and Logic, and Simon Blackburn in many of his writings, including his , , and.. (shrink)
An expressivist theory of consciousness is outlined. The suggestion that attributions of consciousness involve an essentially projective element is carefully examined, as is the view that ‘zombism’, defined as the thought that certain people are unconscious although physically normal, is a largely affective and not wholly cognitive (hypothetical) disorder. A comparison is drawn between ‘zombism’ and the Capgras delusion. The notion of supervenience is shown to be deeply problematic when applied to projected properties, as is the distinction between weak and (...) strong varieties. It is concluded that, contrary to most received opinion, consciousness and values are not all that different as far as these modal considerations are concerned. (shrink)
Metaethical expressivism is typically characterised as the view that normative statements express desire-like attitudes instead of beliefs. However, in this paper I argue that expressivists should claim that normative statements express beliefs in normative propositions, and not merely in some deflationary sense but in a theoretically robust sense explicated by a theory of propositional attitudes. I first argue that this can be achieved by combining an interpretationist understanding of belief with a nonfactualist view of normative belief content. This results (...) in a view I call ‘interpretative expressivism’. I then argue that traditional arguments employed by expressivists that normative statements express noncognitive attitudes can just as well support the claim that normative statements express nonfactual or nonrepresentational beliefs. Finally, I argue that this view has a number of advantages to versions of expressivism that deny that normative statements express non-deflationary normative beliefs. (shrink)
My goal is to illuminate truth-making by way of illuminating the relation of making. My strategy is not to ask what making is, in the hope of a metaphysical theory about is nature. It's rather to look first to the language of making. The metaphor behind making refers to agency. It would be absurd to suggest that claims about making are claims about agency. It is not absurd, however, to propose that the concept of making somehow emerges from some feature (...) to do with agency. That's the contention to be explore in this paper. The way to do this is through expressivism,. Truth-making claims, and making-claims generfally, are claims in which we express mental states linked to our maipulation of concepts, like truth. In particular, they express disposition to undertake derivations using inference rules, in which introduction rules have a specific role. I then show how this theory explains our intuitions about truth's asymmetric dependence on being. (shrink)
I discuss the relationship between the two forms of expressivism defended by Robert Brandom, on one hand, and philosophers in the Humean tradition, such as Simon Blackburn and Allan Gibbard, on the other. I identify three apparent points of difference between the two programs, but argue that all three are superficial. Both projects benefit from the insights of the other, and the combination is in a natural sense a global expressivism.
Contemporary expressivists typically deny that all true judgments must represent reality. Many instead adopt truth minimalism, according to which there is no substantive property of judgments in virtue of which they are true. In this article, I suggest that expressivists would be better suited to adopt truth pluralism, or the view that there is more than one substantive property of judgments in virtue of which judgments are true. My point is not that an expressivism that takes this form is (...) true, but that it more readily accommodates the motivations that typically lead expressivists to their view in the first place. (shrink)
Expressivists about epistemic modals deny that ‘Jane might be late’ canonically serves to express the speaker’s acceptance of a certain propositional content. Instead, they hold that it expresses a lack of acceptance. Prominent expressivists embrace pragmatic expressivism: the doxastic property expressed by a declarative is not helpfully identified with that sentence’s compositional semantic value. Against this, we defend semantic expressivism about epistemic modals: the semantic value of a declarative from this domain is the property of doxastic attitudes it (...) canonically serves to express. In support, we synthesize data from the critical literature on expressivism—largely reflecting interactions between modals and disjunctions—and present a semantic expressivism that readily predicts the data. This contrasts with salient competitors, including: pragmatic expressivism based on domain semantics or dynamic semantics; semantic expressivism à la Moss ; and the bounded relational semantics of Mandelkern . (shrink)
Expressivism is a blossoming meta-semantic framework sometimes relying on what Carter and Chrisman call “the core expressivist maneuver.” That is, instead of asking about the nature of a certain kind of value, we should be asking about the nature of the value judgment in question. According to expressivists, this question substitution opens theoretical space for the elegant, economical, and explanatorily powerful expressivist treatment of the relevant domain. I argue, however, that experimental work in cognitive psychology can shed light on (...) how the core expressivist maneuver operates at the cognitive level and that this: raises worries about the aptness of the expressivist question substitution and supports an evolutionary debunking argument against expressivism. Since evolutionary debunking arguments are usually run in favor of expressivism, this creates an obvious puzzle for expressivists. I wrap up by briefly responding to the objection that the debunking argument against expressivism overgeneralizes and, therefore, should be rejected. (shrink)
I offer a new theory of faultless disagreement, according to which truth is absolute (non-relative) but can still be non-objective. What's relative is truth-aptness: a sentence like ‘Vegemite is tasty’ (V) can be truth-accessible and bivalent in one context but not in another. Within a context in which V fails to be bivalent, we can affirm that there is no issue of truth or falsity about V, still disputants, affirming and denying V, were not at fault, since, in their context (...) of assertion V was bivalent. This theory requires a theory of assertion that is a form of cognitive expressivism. (shrink)
I respond to an interesting objection to my 2014 argument against hermeneutic expressivism. I argue that even though Toppinen has identified an intriguing route for the expressivist to tread, the plausible developments of it would not fall to my argument anyways---as they do not make direct use of the parity thesis which claims that expression works the same way in the case of conative and cognitive attitudes. I close by sketching a few other problems plaguing such views.
In this paper, I will present and advocate a view about what we are doing when we attribute delusion, namely, say that someone is delusional. It is an “expressivist” view, roughly analogous to expressivism in meta-ethics. Just as meta-ethical expressivism accounts for certain key features of moral discourse, so does this expressivism account for certain key features of delusion attribution. And just as meta-ethical expressivism undermines factualism about moral properties, so does this expressivism, if correct, (...) show that certain attempts to objectively define delusion are misguided. I proceed as follows. I start by examining different attempts at defining delusion, separating broadly psychiatric attempts from epistemic ones. I then present a change of approach, according to which we question whether the term “delusion” is in the business of (merely) describing reality. I then support this proposal, first, by borrowing standard lines of argument from meta-ethics (including ontological reluctance, intrinsic motivation, and deep disagreement) but also, by inference to the best explanation of some the features we see when we try to theorise about delusion (namely that it is hard to define, and that our delusion attributions are elicited by a plurality of norms). (shrink)
This paper discusses the relation between Crispin Wright’s alethic pluralism and my global expressivism. I argue that on many topics Wright’s own view counts as expressivism in my sense, but that truth itself is a striking exception. Unlike me, Wright never seems to countenance an expressivist account of truth, though the materials needed are available to him in his approaches to other topics.
This paper is about Truth Minimalism, Norm Expressivism, and the relation between them. In particular, it is about whether Truth Minimalism can help to solve a problem thought to plague Norm Expressivism. To start with, let me explain what I mean by 'Truth Minimalism' and 'Norm Expressivism.'.
I begin by picking up on Brandom’s suggestion that expressivism follows American pragmatism in seeking to advance the cause of the Enlightenment. This provides us with a first point of contrast with Taylor’s understanding of expressivism, since Taylor takes expressivism to be inseparably bound up with the Romantic critique of the Enlightenment and as fundamentally opposed to Enlightenment naturalism. I then distinguish two features of what we ordinarily mean by the term ‘expression’, one of which provides an (...) intuitive basis for understanding Brandom’s expressivist program, the other of which provides an interpretive key for understanding Taylor’s version of expressivism. After looking briefly at the main tenets of Taylor’s expressivism, I conclude by considering its relation to Romanticism on the one hand, and to Brandom’s expressivist renewal of the Enlightenment project on the other. (shrink)
Epistemic expressivists maintain, to a first approximation, that epistemic assertions express non-cognitive mental states, like endorsements, valuations, or pro-attitudes, rather than cognitive mental states such as beliefs. Proponents of epistemic expressivism include Chrisman, Gibbard, Field, Kappel, and Ridge, among others. In this paper, I argue for an alternative view to epistemic expressivism. The view I seek to advocate is inspired by hybrid expressivist theories about moral judgments, Copp Oxford studies in metaethics, 2009), Finlay, Strandberg ). According to these (...) hybrid views, moral judgments express semantically cognitive or representational states and pragmatically convey the speaker’s non-cognitive mental states via implicatures. I will argue that a particular version of this view can reasonably be extended to epistemic judgments and that it has several advantages over its expressivist and cognitivist competitors. In particular, I will try to show that there exist certain phenomena in the epistemic domain that seem to be best accounted for by expressivist theories of epistemic judgments. However, a version of hybrid expressivism that maintains that epistemic judgments convey the attributor’s non-cognitive mental states via generalized conversational implicatures is able to account for these phenomena just as well without running afoul of the main problems that have been identified for different versions of epistemic expressivism. (shrink)
Metaethical expressivists claim that we can explain what moral words like ‘wrong’ mean without having to know what they are about – but rather by saying what it is to think that something is wrong – namely, to disapprove of it. Given the close connection between expressivists’ theory of the meaning of moral words and our attitudes of approval and disapproval, expressivists have had a hard time shaking the intuitive charge that theirs is an objectionably subjectivist or mind-dependent view of (...) morality. Expressivism, critics have charged over and again, is committed to the view that what is wrong somehow depends on or at least correlates with the attitudes that we have toward it. Arguments to this effect are sometimes subtle, and sometimes rely on fancy machinery, but they all share a common flaw. They all fail to respect the fundamental idea of expressivism: that ‘stealing is wrong’ bears exactly the same relationship to disapproval of stealing as ‘grass is green’ bears to the belief that grass is green. In this paper I rehearse the motivations for the fundamental idea of expressivism and show how the arguments of Frank Jackson and Philip Pettit , Russ Shafer-Landau , Jussi Suikkanen , and Christopher Peacocke  all fail on this same rock. In part 1 I’ll rehearse the motivation for expressivism – a motivation which directly explains why it does not have subjectivist consequences. Then in each of parts 2-5 I’ll illustrate how each of Jackson and Pettit’s, Peacocke’s, Shafer-Landau’s, and Suikkanen’s arguments work, respectively, and why each of them fails to respect the fundamental parity at the heart of expressivism. Though others have tried before me to explain why expressivism is not committed to any kind of subjectivism or mind-dependence – prominently including Blackburn , , Horgan and Timmons , and, in response to Pettit and Jackson, Dreier  and Smith and Stoljar , the explanation offered in this article is distinguished by its scope and generality.. (shrink)
Quasi-realist expressivists have developed a growing liking for minimalism about truth. It has gone almost unnoticed, though, that minimalism also drives an anti-Archimedean movement which launches a direct attack on expressivists’ non-moral self-image by proclaiming that all metaethical positions are built on moral grounds. This interplay between expressivism, minimalism and anti-Archimedeanism makes for an intriguing metaethical encounter. As such, the first part of this dissertation examines expressivism’s marriage to minimalism and defends it against its critics. The second part (...) then turns to the anti-Archimedean challenge to expressivism and shows how to ward off this challenge by securing expressivism’s non-moral, metaethical status without having to abandon minimalism about truth. (shrink)
Many think that expressivists have a special problem with negation. I disagree. For if there is a problem with negation, I argue, it is a problem shared by those who accept some plausible claims about the nature of intentionality. Whether there is any special problem for expressivists turns, I will argue, on whether facts about what truth-conditions beliefs have can explain facts about basic inferential relations among those beliefs. And I will suggest that the answer to this last question is, (...) on most plausible attempts at solving the problem of intentionality, ‘no’. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to show that expressivism about attitudes is not a tenable position. Although this claim has been often made in the literature, traditional arguments against attitudinal expressivism assumed a dated form of expressivism. In order to show that ascriptions of attitudes cannot be seen as expressive in either of them, the paper discusses two more recent versions of expressivism: quasi-realism and inferentialist expressivism. Quasi-realism escapes traditional arguments against attitudinal expressivism (...) because it allows expressive statements to be true in a deflationary sense. Nonetheless, it is implausible to adopt quasi-realist expressivism with regard to attitudes because this position cannot avoid substantial psychological commitments, despite Toppinen's recent arguments to the contrary. This conclusion also pertains to quasi-realist hybrid expressivist conceptions. The recently developed conception of inferentialist expressivism arguably creates the most accommodating theory for attitudinal expressivism as it does not make any substantial psychological commitments. Still, the criteria of bifurcation assumed in this framework does not support the claim that attitudes play an expressive role. (shrink)
According to a persistent objection against metaethical expressivism, this view is committed to a strong version of internalism which is unable to account for cases where a person’s moral judgment and motivation come apart. Recently, leading expressivists have argued that they can meet this objection by maintaining that moral judgments consist in non-cognitive states that motivate in normal conditions. In this paper, it is maintained that an important dimension of internalism has, on the whole, gone unnoticed: Internalist claims vary (...) depending on whether moral judgments and motivation are understood as dispositional states or occurrent states. This variation can be invoked in an argument showing that expressivists are indeed committed to versions of internalism that make it impossible to account for cases in which moral judgment and motivation diverge. (shrink)
Moral realism and antirealist-expressivism are of course incompatible positions. They disagree fundamentally about the nature of moral states of mind, the existence of moral states of affairs and properties, and the nature and role of moral discourse. The central realist view is that a person who has or expresses a moral thought is thereby in, or thereby expresses, a cognitive state of mind; she has or expresses a belief that represents a moral state of affairs in a way that (...) might be accurate or inaccurate. The view of antirealist-expressivism is that such a person is in, or expresses, a conative state of mind, one that consists in a certain kind of attitude or motivational stance toward something, such as an action or a person. Realism holds that moral thoughts have truth conditions and that in some cases these truth conditions are satisfied so that our moral thoughts are true. Antirealist-expressivism holds, to a first approximation, that the distinctive moral content of a moral thought does not have truth conditions. (shrink)
The paper analyzes the nature and scope of Moore’s paradox, articulates the desiderata of a successful solution and claims that psychological expressivism best meets these desiderata. After a brief discussion of prominent responses to Moore’s paradox, the paper offers a solution based on a theory of expressive acts: a Moorean utterance is absurd because the speaker expresses mental states with conflicting contents in commissive versions of the paradox and conflicting states of mind in omissive versions. The paper presents a (...) theory of expressivism for self-ascriptions of mental states. In addition, it introduces the idea of expressive denegation—the speaker’s expressing the absence of a mental state—as an analysis of negative self-ascriptions of mental states. Some of the consequences of expressivism for avowals are explored. (shrink)
Accounts of scientific explanation disagree about what’s required for a cause, law, or other fact to be a reason why an event occurs. In short, they disagree about the conditions for explanatory relevance. Nonetheless, most accounts presuppose that claims about explanatory relevance play a descriptive role in tracking reality. By rejecting the need for this descriptivist assumption, I develop an expressivist account of explanatory relevance and explanation: to judge that an answer is explanatory is to express an attitude of being (...) for being satisfied by that answer. I show how expressivism vindicates ordinary scientific discourse about explanation, including claims about the objectivity and mind-independence of explanations. By avoiding commitment to ontic relevance relations, I rehabilitate an irrealist conception of explanation. (shrink)
Geach's problem, the problem of accounting for the fact that judgements expressed using moral terms function logically like other judgements, stands in the way of most noncognitive analyses of moral judgements. The non-cognitivist must offer a plausible interpretation of such terms when they appear in conditionals that also explains their logical interaction with straightforward moral assertions. Blackburn and Gibbard have offered a series of accounts each of which interprets such conditionals as expressing higher order commitments. Each then invokes norms for (...) the coherent acceptance of attitudes to explain why we hold certain combinations inconsistent. Against these accounts the paper presses two related objections: (1) The norms needed to do the explanatory work cannot be strong enough to do that work without also ruling clearly consistent attitudes inconsistent. And (2), the norms of rational attitude acceptance do not neatly track the distinction between consistent and inconsistent attitudes. (shrink)
Relativism and expressivism offer two different semantic frameworks for grappling with a similar cluster of issues. What is the difference between these two frameworks? Should they be viewed as rivals? If so, how should we choose between them? This chapter sheds light on these questions. After providing an overview of relativism and expressivism, I discuss three potential choice points: their relation to truth conditional semantics, their pictures of belief and communication, and their explanations of disagreement.
In the present paper we argue that although the semantics of both legal and moral statements can be explained with the use of a unified framework called hybrid or quasi-expressivism (Finlay & Plunkett, 2018), there still is an important difference in the semantics of moral and legal terms. Namely, while the truth conditions of legal statements are widely intersubjectively shared, this is not the case with moral statements. We demonstrate this difference using the example of the ex aequo et (...) bono adjudication method. In the first background section we explain what is hybrid or quasi-expressivism as well as what is the standard account of the semantics of moral and legal statements. In the next section, we explain in detail how we aim to demonstrate that the semantics of legal terms and the semantics of some moral terms, such as ‘goodness’ or ‘fairness’, differ importantly. In order to illustrate the difference, we next explain the ex aequo et bono adjudication method and provide examples of cases in which this method has been employed. Crucially, this method is extremely rarely used, which highlights the difference between the semantics of legal and moral statements. Finally, we provide our interpretation of why ex aequo et bono adjudication is so seldom employed and what consequences this has for a theory of the semantics of legal and moral terms. (shrink)