This article focuses on one well-known argument in favor of expressivism and against realism that Shafer-Landau considers, namely Blackburn's supervenience argument. Shafer-Landau believes that he can successfully defend moral realism against Blackburn's argument. I have my doubts about whether this is so.
Some contemporary philosophers have argued that expressivism or non-cognitivism, if suitably developed, can solve the well-known Frege–Geach problem. Of course, whether this is true is a matter of debate. Recently, Cian Dorr has advanced an argument that, if successful, would show that this debate is unimportant. For, according to Dorr, a solution to the Frege–Geach problem will not save expressivism from a new and distinct problem, namely that an expressivist theory—even assuming a solution to the Frege–Geach problem—entails that intuitively rational (...) beliefs are in fact irrational. If Dorr is correct about this, then the new problem he raises would be as devastating as the old Frege–Geach problem is often thought to be. I will argue that Dorr is not correct. Rather than constituting a new and potent objection, the issue Dorr raises—at least absent further argument—does not pose a threat to any expressivist theory which is able to solve the Frege–Geach problem and is otherwise acceptable. (shrink)
An important debate in moral philosophy concerns the thesis of internalism, of which the characteristic idea is that there is a conceptual link between moral judgment and motivation. According to the internalist, to judge that something is right is to be motivated to do it (at least under certain conditions). Externalists are those who deny the truth of internalism. There are two ways that either party to this debate may argue for their preferred position. The indirect approach requires defending an (...) account of moral judgment and showing (for internalists) that it entails there is a conceptual link between moral judgment and motivation or (for externalists) that it entails there is no such link. In contrast, the direct approach requires arguing in favor of one position without assuming any particular account of moral judgment. In this paper, I examine two attempts—one by Michael Smith and one by Sigrún Svavarsdóttir—to resolve this debate between internalists and externalists by using the direct approach. Smith attempts to do so in favor of internalism while Svavarsdóttir makes the attempt in favor of externalism. I conclude that both attempts fail. (shrink)
The basic idea of a desire theory of welfare is that how good a life is for the person who lives it is a matter of how many of that person’s desires are satisfied. The more satisfied desires the better the life. That it is possible for a person to desire that his or her life go badly is thought to pose problems for such a view. Indeed, some have recently argued that the possibility of such desires entails that a (...) desire theory of welfare leads to paradox. In this paper, I present this purported paradox for the desire theory of welfare, offer a new solution to it, and defend it from objections that have been made to other responses. (shrink)
Solving expressivism’s Frege-Geach problem requires specifying the attitudes expressed by arbitrarily complex moral sentences. Nicholas Unwin emphasizes the problems that arise in doing so for even the relatively simple case of negated atomic sentences. Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons believe that contrary-forming predicate negation offers a solution to this negation problem. I argue that their solution is incomplete.
This dissertation explores three areas of philosophical interest: expressivist or non-cognitivist construals of normative discourse, normative construals of semantic discourse, and the plausibility of semantic non-factualism or irrealism. These three areas are not as unrelated as they may at first glance appear to be. In particular the work presented here demonstrates that the notions of disagreement and inconsistency play a crucial role in all three areas. ;Regarding the first area, it is argued that reflection on the nature of disagreement and (...) inconsistency yields some deep problems for expressivist construals of normative discourse. The best current attempts to provide an expressivist construal of normative discourse---due to Blackburn and Gibbard---model what disagreement and inconsistency amount to on the expressivist account on the way in which forbidding p conflicts with permitting p. However, closer examination of what exactly constitutes disagreement and inconsistency raises doubts about whether such a move is legitimate. Regarding the second area, it is argued that the normativity of meaning is required to explain how disagreement itself is possible. Finally, regarding the last area, it is argued that the attempts of Boghossian and Wright to establish that semantic non factualism inflates into global non-factualism are not successful. The notion of disagreement is once more crucial here. In particular it is argued that getting clear on what exactly it is to disagree is the key to seeing where Wright's line of reasoning goes astray. (shrink)
Schroeder argues that proponents of expressivism “have far more work to do before it can earn its place as the sort of hypothesis on which rational investigators can place any significant credence” (p. 179). Expressivists certainly have more work to do, but I hope my comments demonstrate that their situation might not be as bad as Schroeder believes. There is more reason than Schroeder allows for thinking it is possible to develop a plausible alternative to his version of expressivism that (...) avoids its problems. Of course, I have only sketched a possible way of doing so. The devil is, as always, in the details. As Schroeder correctly concludes, any alternative will need to be worked out much more fully to properly evaluate it (p. 187). Being For sets an impressive standard for the level of detail required. (shrink)