Essays in Quasi-Realism

Essays in quasi-realism
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This additional recourse by a proponent of the error theory to the interdefinability of the key deontic concepts is misconceived, for that interdefinability does not involve any transfer of existential commitments from obligatoriness-ascribing propositions and forbiddenness-ascribing propositions to permissibility-ascribing propositions. When someone attributes permissibility to CZ, she thereby holds that CZ is not forbidden and that abstaining from CZ is not obligatory.

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Because the interdefinability of the concept of permissibility with the concepts of obligatoriness and forbiddenness is effected through negation in each case, any existential commitments carried by ascriptions of obligatoriness and forbiddenness are not similarly carried by ascriptions of permissibility. Indeed, if an ascription of permissibility is universally quantified across all possible courses of conduct—a universal quantification entailed by the error theory—it presupposes the inexistence of to-be-pursuedness and not-to-be-doneness.

That presupposition is exactly what is implied by the interdefinability of permissibility and obligatoriness and forbiddenness.

After all, a universally quantified ascription of moral permissibility maintains that nothing is ever morally forbidden and that nothing is ever morally obligatory. Accordingly, the interdefinability of permissibility and obligatoriness and forbiddenness is entirely consistent with my critique of the error theory as a doctrine that is committed to imputing moral permissibility to every possible course of conduct.

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I said that a status skeptic must find a way to reject the thesis he opposes, which is that moral judgments are candidates for objective truth, without also rejecting the first-order, substantive moral declarations he wishes to leave standing. I described two strategies he might use. He might claim, first, that the thesis he rejects is a second-order, philosophical claim different in meaning from the first-order substantive judgments he does not mean to oppose….

The strategy fails unless he can identify a claim about the status of moral judgments that he rejects and that satisfies the two conditions of pertinence and independence. He cannot do this. I tried to illustrate his difficulty in the previous discussion: I canvassed many familiar arguments to suggest a more general thesis. Dworkin : 53, quoted in Smith : However, Smith maintains that status skeptics think that the beliefs expressed through moral judgments are distinctive in being fully constituted by desires or desire-like states concerning non-moral matters of fact.

Accordingly, the truths which those judgments articulate are also distinctive in being the contents of beliefs that are wholly constituted by desires or desire-like states. Smith further declares that these claims propounded by status skeptics are not moral contentions but are instead purely philosophical in character. They are theses about the metaphysics of moral beliefs. Though they no longer deny that moral judgments are truth-apt, they do deny that the beliefs expressed by such judgments are metaphysically on a par with the beliefs expressed by assertions about non-normative and non-evaluative matters of fact.

Smith : — In the published version of Justice for Hedgehogs , Dworkin replied to Smith rather quizzically in a lengthy endnote. Although a particular disposition of that sort might be exceeded in strength by some countervailing inclination in a given context, it exists even in such a context where it goes unmanifested. Elsewhere, I have argued at length that judgment-internalism elaborated as a conceptual thesis is fallacious.

As Dworkin emphasized and as I have elsewhere emphasized Kramer : 3—5 et passim , meta-ethical theses are typically pitched at very high levels of abstraction and are therefore typically consistent with wide arrays of relatively concrete moral judgments. In that respect, meta-ethical theses are like other highly abstract moral doctrines.

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Such skepticism as limned by Smith is a doctrine which holds that moral beliefs are derivatives or shadows of conative attitudes. As has already been stated, it is a doctrine that seeks to reconcile the nature of such beliefs with judgment-internalism.

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This volume collects some influential essays in which Simon Blackburn, one of our leading philosophers, explores one of the most profound and fertile of philosophical problems: the way in which our judgments relate to the world. This volume collects some influential essays in which Simon Blackburn, one of our leading philosophers, explores one of the most profound and fertile of.

Now, although an exploration here of the character of judgment-internalism as a highly abstract moral position would take us too far afield, I have sought to provide such an exploration in my main writings on the topic elsewhere cited above. Notwithstanding that the abstractness of judgment-internalism will leave it compatible with a vast throng of relatively concrete moral judgments, it is a moral position with some very general moral implications.

So I have argued elsewhere. For my purposes in this paper, however, the sketchy remarks in this paragraph are sufficient. In the rest of this paper, I will pursue several interrelated objectives. For example, whereas Blackburn repeatedly characterizes his approach as a reconciliation of ethics with naturalism, I readily allow that moral realism as a moral doctrine carries certain non-naturalistic existential commitments—provided that those commitments are construed minimalistically.

Worth noting also is that the rest of this paper might not have been to the liking of Dworkin if he had lived to see it. For one thing, although there are many affinities between my elaboration of moral realism as a moral doctrine and his anti-Archimedean critique of meta-ethics, there are also some significant differences. Equally important in the present context is that Dworkin might not have been receptive to my commendation of expressivism as a philosophical account of the pragmatics of moral discourse.

Dworkin : 67 On the other hand, I am somewhat more doubtful that he would have granted that a distinctively philosophical account of the functioning of moral discourse—an account that is not a moral justification—can be valuable.

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Given that I shall draw an analogy between Blackburnian expressivism and H. Still, I am likewise not robustly confident that he would have frowned upon such an endeavor. In any event, this portion of my paper is not a defense of Dworkin any more than it is straightforwardly an exegesis of Blackburn. Expressivism has traditionally been regarded as an exposition of the semantics of moral utterances. It has been espoused, with varying degrees of sophistication and subtlety, to assimilate such utterances to statements that lack any propositional content for example, interjections.

Expressivism so oriented is misguided, partly because the contents of moral judgments are propositional and irreducibly normative—and because the propositionality and irreducible normativity of their contents are moral matters—and partly because expressivism can be pertinently developed instead as a philosophical account of the pragmatics of moral discourse. That is, instead of aiming to supply an exposition of what moral utterances mean, expressivism should be aiming to supply an exposition of what people do by engaging in such utterances and by articulating them in propositional forms.

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It should be endeavoring to chart what people achieve at practical levels by suffusing their interactions with moral judgments. Alternatively stated, expressivism should be endeavoring to recount the important social functions that are performed by the inclusion of such judgments in human intercourse.

Metaethics: Crash Course Philosophy #32

I believe that Blackburn, especially in his later work, has redirected expressivism along the lines just suggested. However, I shall first adduce here an analogy—from the domain of legal philosophy—to clarify and amplify the foregoing paragraph.

As he argued, such a situation would be crippled by rampant uncertainty, gross inefficiency, disorderliness, and stagnancy. Social interaction on a large scale for an extended period of time could not credibly occur under such circumstances.

Expressivism, Emotivism, and Quasi-Realism : askphilosophy

By averting or greatly alleviating those problems, secondary norms perform immensely important roles in any society. Hart : chap. First, although Hart has sometimes been accused of indulging in anthropological speculations from his armchair, 11 and although some of his inaptly chosen wording has encouraged such accusations, his project is best understood very differently. Hart did not embark upon some genealogical or aetiological enquiry at all. Rather, as my preceding paragraph has indicated, he was seeking to highlight the important functions performed by secondary norms.

He did so by prescinding from all the effects of secondary norms and by then pondering what the patterns of intercourse among human beings would be like without those effects. His prescinding from those effects was an abstract thought-experiment, rather than the postulation of a society that ever has existed or ever could exist. By imagining the absence of secondary norms, he rightly presumed, we can vividly grasp the far-reaching import of such norms in every actual society. Hart undertook a philosophical quest for clarification, rather than an anthropological quest for origins or causes.

Hart as a legal positivist was well aware that the effects of secondary norms can be malign as well as benign. Those effects are momentously far-reaching, but they are not always morally commendable. Indeed, they can be morally pernicious. Although the effectuation of secondary norms in a functional system of law is undoubtedly necessary for the sway of justice and freedom and security and prosperity in a society, it is likewise necessary for the introduction and sustainment of noxious institutions such as chattel slavery.

At a philosophical level of abstraction, it delineates some necessary features of any credibly possible society that exists on a large scale for a sustained period. Although some of the secondary norms recounted by Hart could be absent in an utterly fanciful large-scale society that never has existed and never will exist, secondary norms of all three main types are present in every actual large-scale society. Their presence is necessary for the cohesion and flexibility that enable any such society to persist.

In that sense, they are existence-conditions for any large-scale society. Expressivism does not address itself exclusively to fine-grained matters of pragmatics such as Gricean implicatures. It addresses itself at least as much to more coarse-grained matters of what people are able to do when they employ rather than eschew moral categories in their daily intercourse. It explores the important and wide-ranging effects—the important and wide-ranging social functions—that occur through the use and salience of such categories in human activities. In particular, it explores the effects that are made possible through the communication of moral attitudes as propositional judgments rather than simply as exclamations or other non-propositional utterances.

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De aartsvader boek. You may send this item to up to five recipients. The quasi-realist challenge, developed by Blackburn in this volume, is that we can have those attachments without any metaphysic that deserves to be called realism, so that the metaphysical picture that goes with our practices is quite idle. Translated into English by Mr. Hearts never forget: A Millionaire Story. The cases treated here include the theories of value and knowledge, modality, probability, causation, intentionality and rule-following, and explanation.

Although this paper is not exegetical, it seems to me that Blackburn has reoriented expressivism largely along the lines suggested here. Whereas in his early work he undertook to develop a logic that would enable him to handle the Frege—Geach problem Blackburn : chap. On the one hand, Blackburn is occasionally incautious in his phrasing in ways that can easily lead to misunderstandings.

In addition, the wording somewhat blurs the distinction between moral propositions and the formulations of those propositions. However, his overall discussion makes clear that Blackburn has not set forth on any genealogical-aetiological quest for origins or causes in his reflections on moral discourse.