Two nondescriptivist views of normative and evaluative statements

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (3-4):405-424 (2018)
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The dominant route to nondescriptivist views of normative and evaluative language is through the expressivist idea that normative terms have distinctive expressive roles in conveying our attitudes. This paper explores an alternative route based on two ideas. First, a core normative term ‘ought’ is a modal operator; and second, modal operators play a distinctive nonrepresentational role in generating meanings for the statements in which they figure. I argue that this provides for an attractive alternative to expressivist forms of nondescriptivism about normative language. In the final section of the paper, I explore ways it might be extended to evaluative language.
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