Can Expressivists Tell the Difference Between Beauty and Moral Goodness?

American Philosophical Quarterly 45 (3):289-300 (2008)
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Abstract

One important but infrequently discussed difficulty with expressivism is the attitude type individuation problem.1 Expressivist theories purport to provide a unified account of normative states. Judgments of moral goodness, beauty, humor, prudence, and the like, are all explicated in the same way: as expressions of attitudes, what Allan Gibbard calls “states of norm-acceptance”. However, expressivism also needs to explain the difference between these different sorts of attitude. It is possible to judge that a thing is both aesthetically good and morally bad. While the realist can explain the difference by suggesting that each judgment makes reference to a different property (or set of properties), the expressivist cannot. She must show that what is expressed by the speaker is different in each case. This has proven to be difficult to do

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James Harold
Mount Holyoke College

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