Conceptual Role Expressivism and Defective Concepts

In Oxford Studies in Metaethics 17. pp. 225-53 (2022)
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This paper examines the general prospects for conceptual role expressivism, expressivist theories that embrace conceptual role semantics. It has two main aims. The first aim is to provide a general characterisation of the view. The second aim is to raise a challenge for the general view. The challenge is to explain why normative concepts are not a species of defective concepts, where defective concepts are those that cannot meaningfully embed and participate in genuine inference. After rejecting existing attempts to answer the challenge, I propose an alternative solution. However, the solution leaves conceptual role expressivism a far less distinctive and interesting position than its proponents claim. I conclude that we should be sceptical about how much expressivists gain by appealing to conceptual role semantics.

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James L. D. Brown
University of Sheffield


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