Expressivism, Anti-Archimedeanism and Supervenience

Res Publica 20 (2):163-181 (2014)
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Metaethics is traditionally understood as a non-moral discipline that examines moral judgements from a standpoint outside of ethics. This orthodox understanding has recently come under pressure from anti-Archimedeans, such as Ronald Dworkin and Matthew Kramer, who proclaim that rather than assessing morality from an external perspective, metaethical theses are themselves substantive moral claims. In this paper, I scrutinise this anti-Archimedean challenge as applied to the metaethical position of expressivism. More precisely, I examine the claim that expressivists do not avoid moral commitments when accounting for moral thought, but instead presuppose them; they do not look at ethics from the outside, but operate from within ethics. This paper defends the non-moral status of expressivism against anti-Archimedeanism by rejecting a new anti-Archimedean challenge which, on the basis of Hume’s Law, aims to exploit expressivist explanations of supervenience in order to show that expressivism is a substantive moral position.

Author's Profile

Christine Tiefensee
Frankfurt School of Finance & Management


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