‘Ought’-contextualism beyond the parochial

Philosophical Studies (forthcoming)
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Despite its increasing prominence, ‘ought’-contextualism is regarded with suspicion by most metaethicists. I argue, however, that contextualism is a very weak claim, that every metaethicist can sign up to. The real controversy concerns how contextualism is developed. I then draw an oft-overlooked distinction between “parochial” contextualism – on which the contextually-relevant standards are those that the speaker, or others in her environment, subscribe to – and “aspirational” contextualism – on which the contextually-relevant standards are the objective standards (if any) for the relevant domain. However, I argue that neither view is acceptable. I suggest a compromise: “ecumenical contextualism”, on which some uses of ‘ought’ are parochial, others aspirational. Ecumenical contextualism is compatible with realism or anti-realism, but either combination yields interesting results. And though it’s a cognitivist view, it is strengthened by incorporating an expressivist insight: for robustly normative usages of ‘ought’, the contextually-relevant standards must be endorsed by the speaker.
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References found in this work BETA
Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and Other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
Ifs and Oughts.Kolodny, Niko & MacFarlane, John
Moral Realism and the Foundations of Ethics.Shaver, Robert & Brink, David O.

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