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James L. D. Brown
University of Sheffield
  1. On Scepticism About Ought Simpliciter.James L. D. Brown - 2023 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
    Scepticism about ought simpliciter is the view that there is no such thing as what one ought simpliciter to do. Instead, practical deliberation is governed by a plurality of normative standpoints, each authoritative from their own perspective but none authoritative simpliciter. This paper aims to resist such scepticism. After setting out the challenge in general terms, I argue that scepticism can be resisted by rejecting a key assumption in the sceptic’s argument. This is the assumption that standpoint-relative ought judgments bring (...)
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  2. Interpretative expressivism: A theory of normative belief.James L. D. Brown - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 179 (1):1-20.
    Metaethical expressivism is typically characterised as the view that normative statements express desire-like attitudes instead of beliefs. However, in this paper I argue that expressivists should claim that normative statements express beliefs in normative propositions, and not merely in some deflationary sense but in a theoretically robust sense explicated by a theory of propositional attitudes. I first argue that this can be achieved by combining an interpretationist understanding of belief with a nonfactualist view of normative belief content. This results in (...)
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  3. Conceptual Role Expressivism and Defective Concepts.James L. D. Brown - 2022 - In Oxford Studies in Metaethics 17. pp. 225-53.
    This paper examines the general prospects for conceptual role expressivism, expressivist theories that embrace conceptual role semantics. It has two main aims. The first aim is to provide a general characterisation of the view. The second aim is to raise a challenge for the general view. The challenge is to explain why normative concepts are not a species of defective concepts, where defective concepts are those that cannot meaningfully embed and participate in genuine inference. After rejecting existing attempts to answer (...)
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  4. Expressivism and Cognitive Propositions.James L. D. Brown - 2019 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5 (3):371-387.
    Expressivists about normative thought and discourse traditionally deny that there are nondeflationary normative propositions. However, it has recently been suggested that expressivists might avoid a number of problems by providing a theory of normative propositions compatible with expressivism. This paper explores the prospects for developing an expressivist theory of propositions within the framework of cognitive act theories of propositions. First, I argue that the only extant expressivist theory of cognitive propositions—Michael Ridge's ‘ecumenical expressivist’ theory—fails to explain identity conditions for normative (...)
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  5. Additive Value and the Shape of a Life.James L. D. Brown - 2019 - Ethics 130 (1):92-101.
    The shape of a life hypothesis holds that the temporal sequence of good or bad times in a life can itself be a valuable feature of that life. This is generally thought to be incompatible with additivism about lifetime well-being, which holds that lifetime well-being is fully determined by momentary well-being. This discussion examines Dale Dorsey’s recent argument that these views are in fact compatible. I argue that accepting the conjunction of these views requires stronger commitments than Dorsey recognizes. After (...)
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  6. A Plea for Prudence.James L. D. Brown - 2023 - Analysis 83 (2):394-404.
    Critical notice of Guy Fletcher's 'Dear Prudence: The Nature and Normativity of Prudential Discourse' and Dale Dorsey's 'A Theory of Prudence'.
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  7. Can a Necessity Be the Source of Necessity?James L. D. Brown - 2022 - Argumenta 7 (2):337-355.
    This paper asks whether a necessity can be the source of necessity. According to an influential argument due to Simon Blackburn, it cannot. This paper argues that although Blackburn fails to show that a necessity cannot be the source of necessity, extant accounts fail to establish that it is, with particular focus on Bob Hale’s essentialist theory and Christopher Peacocke’s ‘principle-based’ theory of modality. However, the paper makes some positive suggestions for what a satisfactory answer to the challenge must look (...)
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