Isaiah Berlin Lecture HT12
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Seminars in Moral Philosophy Week 1 HT13

Event Name Seminars in Moral Philosophy Week 1 HT13
Start Date 14th Jan 2013 4:30pm
End Date 14th Jan 2013 6:30pm
Duration 2 hours

Speaker: Don Loeb (Vermont)

Title: Has Moral Expressivism Lost its Way?

Venue: Lecture Room, Radcliffe Humanities, Woodstock Road, OX2 6GG

Abstract: Expressivist theories of morality have taken a wrong turn, putting the approach in tension with one of its original motivations. Expressivism about morality is a form of non-cognitivism, a distinctive advantage of which is its ability to accommodate an anti­-objectivist strain in ordinary moral thought. Indeed, this feature is central to non-cognitivismís distinctive character and represents what might reasonably be thought to be its chief virtue, making it invulnerable to worries often directed at its (cognitivist) realist rivals. For example, unlike moral realism, expressivism is said to avoid the problem of disagreement. But this claim confuses two very different worries about disagreement. Expressivists have indeed responded to the worry that if non-cognitivism were right, disagreement would be impossible, by building a family of theories designed to accommodate all of the central commitments to objectivity presupposed in ordinary thought. But in doing so they have lost sight of the aforementioned motivation and left expressivism vulnerable to the argument from disagreement, typically directed at realist theories of morality. The problem is that both objectivist and anti-objectivist presuppositions underlie significant aspects of ordinary moral thought, and neither cognitivist realism nor non-cognitivist anti-realism can accommodate them both.

Webpage: Seminars in Moral Philosophy

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