Synonyms for expressivism or Related words with expressivism
Examples of "expressivism"
Terence Cuneo argues against
by means of the following premise:
Other forms of non-cognitivism include Simon Blackburn's quasi-realism and Allan Gibbard's norm-
More recent versions of
, such as Simon Blackburn’s “quasi-realism”, Allan Gibbard’s “norm-
”, and Mark Timmons’ and Terence Horgan’s “cognitivist
” tend to distance themselves from the “noncognitivist” label applied to Ayer, Stevenson, and Hare. What distinguishes these “new wave” expressivists is that they resist reductive analyses of moral sentences or their corresponding psychological states, moral judgments, and they allow for moral sentences/judgments to have truth value.
are concerned to preserve the participants in ordinary moral thought and discourse from charges of deep error. But, Cuneo argues, there is evidence that many such participants do intend to represent a factual moral reality when they make moral judgments. Hence, if the expressivists are correct and moral language is not properly used to make factual, descriptive assertions, many participants in ordinary moral discourse are frustrated in their illocutionary act intentions. On these grounds it is argued that we should give up
, unless the expressivists are to give up on their claim that
is not an essentially revisionist view of moral thought and discourse.
This project is developed at length in his influential 1994 book, "Making It Explicit", and more briefly in "Articulating Reasons: An Introduction to Inferentialism" (2000); a chapter of that latter work, "Semantic Inferentialism and Logical
", outlines the main themes of representialism vs inferentialism and its relationship to logical
Despite gaining some of the better qualities of the component theories from which it is derived, quasi-realism also picks up vulnerabilities from these different components, too. Thus, it is criticised in some of the ways that moral realism is criticised, for example by Fictionalism (see below); it is also attacked along with
and other non-cognitive theories (indeed it has been regarded by some as a sub-category of
The Frege–Geach problem — named for Peter Geach, who developed it from the writings of Gottlob Frege — claims that by subscribing to
one necessarily accepts that the meaning of "It is wrong to tell lies" is different from the meaning of the "it is wrong to tell lies" part of the conditional "If it is wrong to tell lies, then it is wrong to get your little brother to lie", and that therefore
is an inadequate explanation for moral language.
Some early versions of
arose during the early twentieth century in association with logical positivism. These early views are typically called "noncognitivist". A. J. Ayer’s emotivism is a well-known example.
Hume's theory of ethics has been influential in modern day meta-ethical theory, helping to inspire emotivism, and ethical
and non-cognitivism, as well as Allan Gibbard's general theory of moral judgment and judgments of rationality.
in meta-ethics is a theory about the meaning of moral language. According to
, sentences that employ moral terms – for example, “It is wrong to torture an innocent human being” – are not descriptive or fact-stating; moral terms such as “wrong,” “good,” or “just” do not refer to real, in-the-world properties. The primary function of moral sentences, according to
, is not to assert any matter of fact, but rather to express an evaluative attitude toward an object of evaluation. Because the function of moral language is non-descriptive, moral sentences do not have any truth conditions. Hence, expressivists either do not allow that moral sentences have truth value, or rely on a notion of truth that does not appeal to any descriptive truth conditions being met for moral sentences.
Horgan and Timmons’ label “cognitivist
” in particular captures the philosophical commitment they share with Blackburn and Gibbard to regard moral judgments as cognitive psychological states, i.e. beliefs, and moral sentences as vehicles for genuine assertions or truth-claims. Much of the current expressivist project is occupied with defending a theory of the truth of moral sentences that is consistent with
but can resist the Frege-Geach objection (see below). Expressivists tend to rely on a minimalist or deflationary theory of truth to provide an irrealist account for the truth of moral sentences.
claims that the function of moral language is not descriptive, it allows the irrealist to avoid an error theory: the view that ordinary moral thought and discourse is committed to deep and pervasive error, and that all moral statements make false ontological claims.
This makes quasi-realism a form of non-cognitivism or
. Quasi-realism stands in opposition to other forms of non-cognitivism (such as emotivism and universal prescriptivism), as well as to all forms of cognitivism (including both moral realism and ethical subjectivism).
Moral realism allows the ordinary rules of logic (modus ponens, etc.) to be applied straightforwardly to moral statements. We can say that a moral belief is "false" or "unjustified" or "contradictory" in the same way we would about a factual belief. This is a problem for
, as shown by the Frege–Geach problem.
is a form of moral anti-realism or nonfactualism: the view that there are no moral facts that moral sentences describe or represent, and no moral properties or relations to which moral terms refer. Expressivists deny constructivist accounts of moral facts – e.g. Kantianism – as well as realist accounts – e.g. ethical intuitionism.
While non-cognitivism was generally accepted by analytic philosophers, emotivism had many deficiencies, and evolved into more sophisticated non-cognitivist theories such as the
of Charles Stevenson, and the universal prescriptivism of R. M. Hare, which was based on J. L. Austin's philosophy of speech acts.
According to Sinnott-Armstrong (2006a), the basic thesis of moral nihilism is that "nothing is morally wrong" (§3.4). There are, however, several forms that this thesis can take (see Sinnott-Armstrong, 2006b, pp. 32–37 and Russ Shafer-Landau, 2003, pp. 8–13). There are two important forms of moral nihilism: error theory and
At the beginning of the middle of the twentieth century, R. M. Hare was an important advocate of
/ noncognitivism. Hare’s view is called prescriptivism because he analyzed moral sentences as universal, overriding prescriptions or imperatives. A prescriptivist might paraphrase “X is good” as “Do X!”.
Emotivism can be considered a form of non-cognitivism or
. It stands in opposition to other forms of non-cognitivism (such as quasi-realism and universal prescriptivism), as well as to all forms of cognitivism (including both moral realism and ethical subjectivism).
One form of moral nihilism is
denies the principle that our moral judgments try and fail to describe the moral features, because expressivists believe when someone says something is immoral they are not saying it is right or wrong. Expressivists are not trying to speak the truth when making moral judgments; they are simply trying to express their feelings. "We are not making an effort to describe the way the world is. We are not trying to report on the moral features possessed by various actions, motives, or policies. Instead, we are venting our emotions, commanding others to act in certain ways, or revealing a plan of action. When we condemn torture, for instance, we are expressing our opposition to it, indicating our disgust at it, publicizing our reluctance to perform it, and strongly encouraging others not to go in for it. We can do all of these things without trying to say anything that is true." p. 293.
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