Pure versus Hybrid Expressivism and the Enigma of Conventional Implicature

In Guy Fletcher & Michael Ridge (eds.), Having It Both Ways: Hybrid Theories and Modern Metaethics. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 199-222 (2014)
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Can hybridism about moral claims be made to work? I argue it can if we accept the conventional implicature approach developed in Barker (Analysis 2000). However, this kind of hybrid expressivism is only acceptable if we can make sense of conventional implicature, the kind of meaning carried by operators like ‘even’, ‘but’, etc. Conventional implictures are a form of pragmatic presupposition, which involves an unsaid mode of delivery of content. I argue that we can make sense of conventional implicatures, but doing so requires we embrace a form of pure, non-hybrid expressivism. This is a cognitivist expressivism I have developed elsewhere. We need cognitivist expressivism to make sense of how we evaluate—judge as correct or incorrect—implicature-bearing sentences. Once we embraced the possibility of this pure expressivism, we might as well be pure expressivists about normative discourse too. I show how we can do that. The motivations for a specifically hybrid theory are dialectically undercut.

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Stephen Barker
Nottingham University


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