How to Be an Ethical Expressivist

Abstract

Expressivism promises an illuminating account of the nature of normative judgment. But worries about the details of expressivist semantics have led many to doubt whether expressivism's putative advantages can be secured. Drawing on insights from linguistic semantics and decision theory, I develop a novel framework for implementing an expressivist semantics that I call ordering expressivism. I argue that by systematically interpreting the orderings that figure in analyses of normative terms in terms of the basic practical attitude of conditional weak preference, the expressivist can explain the semantic properties of normative sentences in terms of the logical properties of that attitude. Expressivism's problems with capturing the logical relations among normative sentences can be reduced to the familiar, more tractable problem of explaining certain coherence constraints on preferences. Particular attention is given to the interpretation of wide-scope negation. The proposed solution is also extended to other types of embedded contexts—most notably, disjunctions

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Alex Silk
University of Birmingham

Citations of this work

The Problem with the Frege–Geach Problem.Nate Charlow - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (3):635-665.
Prospects for an Expressivist Theory of Meaning.Nate Charlow - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15:1-43.
Semantic expressivism for epistemic modals.Peter Hawke & Shane Steinert-Threlkeld - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (2):475-511.
Two Puzzles About Ability Can.Malte Willer - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (3):551-586.
Moral Cognitivism Vs. Non-Cognitivism.Mark van Roojen - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 2013 (1):1-88.

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