(How) Is Ethical Neo-Expressivism a Hybrid View?

In Guy Fletcher & Michael Ridge (eds.), Having It Both Ways: Hybrid Theories and Modern Metaethics. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 223-247 (2014)
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According to ethical neo-expressivism, all declarative sentences, including those used to make ethical claims, have propositions as their semantic contents, and acts of making an ethical claim are properly said to express mental states, which (if motivational internalism is correct) are intimately connected to motivation. This raises two important questions: (i) The traditional reason for denying that ethical sentences express propositions is that these were thought to determine ways the world could be, so unless we provide an analysis of ethical terms in terms of natural properties, are we not committed to the Moorean conclusion that ethical sentences describe sui generis “nonnatural” ways the world could be? (ii) If we reject the claim that motivational attitudes constitute any part of the semantics of ethical sentences, are we not committed to denying the intuition behind motivational internalism after all? This chapter argues for negative answers to both of these questions.

Author Profiles

Dorit Bar-On
University of Connecticut
Matthew Chrisman
University of Edinburgh
James Sias
Dickinson College


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