, Volume 156, Issue 3, pp 433-439
Date: 22 Sep 2010

Context, relevant parts and (lack of) disagreement over taste

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Cappelen and Hawthorne’s book provides a very rich and interesting set of challenges for those of us who have advocated semantic theories in which certain sentences express contents which are assigned truth values only relative to parameters such as a “judge” or standard of taste. It would be impossible to give a comprehensive assessment and response to Cappelen and Hawthorne’s program in the space allotted here; I will focus instead on a one specific argument they make with regard to the semantic analysis of expressions of personal taste, and attempt to show that what they suggest is a serious problem for relativist semantics is not, in fact, threatening to the relativist program at all.

Responses to several others of Cappelen and Hawthorne’s arguments are given in Lasersohn (2008).

As Cappelen and Hawthorne point out, the primary motivation for a relativist semantic theory is to account for the phenomenon of “faultless disagreement,” in which two or more individuals seem intuitively to