Metaethics, teleosemantics and the function of moral judgements

Biology and Philosophy 27 (5):639-662 (2012)
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Abstract

This paper applies the theory of teleosemantics to the issue of moral content. Two versions of teleosemantics are distinguished: input-based and output-based. It is argued that applying either to the case of moral judgements generates the conclusion that such judgements have both descriptive (belief-like) and directive (desire-like) content, intimately entwined. This conclusion directly validates neither descriptivism nor expressivism, but the application of teleosemantics to moral content does leave the descriptivist with explanatory challenges which the expressivist does not face. Since teleosemantics ties content to function, the paper also offers an account of the evolutionary function of moral judgements.

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Neil Sinclair
Nottingham University

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