Non-cognitivism and the Problem of Moral-based Epistemic Reasons: A Sympathetic Reply to Cian Dorr

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According to Cian Dorr, non-cognitivism has the implausible implication that arguments like the following are cases of wishful thinking: If lying is wrong, then the souls of liars will be punished in the afterlife; lying is wrong; therefore, the souls of liars will be punished in the afterlife. Dorr further claims that if non-cognitivism implies that the above argument and similar arguments are cases of wishful thinking, then non-cognitivism remains implausible even if one solves the so-called Frege-Geach problem. Dorr’s claims have faced a number of objections, but I believe that Dorr is on to something. So, after summarizing Dorr’s argument and briefly describing three flaws in what Dorr claims, I shall present a distinct objection to non-cognitivism and use the preceding to show what Dorr’s argument gets right and what it gets wrong.
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