Noncognitivism in Metaethics and the Philosophy of Action

Erkenntnis:1-21 (forthcoming)
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Abstract
Noncognitivism about normative judgment is the view that normative judgment is a distinctive kind of mental state, identical neither to belief or desire, but desire-like in its functional role and direction of fit. Noncognitivism about intention is the view that intention is a distinctive kind of mental state, identical neither to belief or desire, but desire-like in its functional role and direction of fit. While these theories are alike in several ways, they have rarely been discussed in concert. This paper studies the relation between these two theories, focusing on the question of whether noncognitivism about intention faces an analogue of the well-known Frege-Geach problem for noncognitivism about normative judgment. I argue that whether it faces the Frege-Geach problem depends on how it treats the distinction between what Anscombe called expressions of intention and personal predictions. I show that there is substantial pressure to treat that distinction as semantic, and that a variant of the Frege-Geach problem arises for versions of noncognitivism about intention that go this route. Yet some philosophers of action may be willing to resist this pressure, and I develop a pragmatic account of the distinction that would allow such philosophers to avoid the Frege-Geach problem altogether. I argue that this pragmatic account has significant independent appeal. Notably, it provides a way for noncognitivists about intention to undercut the force of a recent argument for cognitivism due to Berislav Marušić and John Schwenkler.
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Archival date: 2020-11-29
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2020-11-28

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