Advertisement

Philosophical Studies

, Volume 175, Issue 6, pp 1333–1356 | Cite as

Realist-expressivism and the fundamental role of normative belief

  • David CoppEmail author
Article

Abstract

The goal of this paper is to show that a cognitivist–externalist view about moral judgment is compatible with a key intuition that motivates non-cognitivist expressivism. This is the intuition that normative judgments have a close connection to action that ordinary “descriptive factual beliefs” do not have, or, as James Dreier has suggested, that part of the fundamental role of normative judgment is to motivate. One might think that cognitivist–externalist positions about normative judgment are committed to viewing normative judgments as having the same role in our psychology as ordinary descriptive factual beliefs. This paper argues to the contrary. It restricts attention to moral judgments. It develops an account of moral belief according to which, first, moral beliefs are representational cognitive states that have the same basic nature as ordinary descriptive factual beliefs. Yet, second, their fundamental role is such that, when all goes well, moral beliefs mesh with our moral policies to motivate action. The paper draws on a society-centered account of the grounding of morality, a distinction between “basic” and “internal” ways of thinking of the moral properties, and a hybrid account of the “meaning” of moral predicates, called “realist-expressivism.”

Keywords

Meta-ethics Realist-expressivism Normative belief The role of normative belief Cognitivism Non-cognitivism Moral judgment internalism Moral judgment externalism 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Some of the ideas developed in this essay were presented to the Tenth Symposium on Ethics and Political Philosophy, Center for Ethics and Philosophy of Mind, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, March, 2014, to the Rio-2015 Metaethics Conference, January, 2015 and to the Departments of Philosophy at York University and the University of Calgary in December, 2014 and 2015, respectively. I am grateful to members of these audiences for helpful discussion and especially to Andrew Alwood, Ali Kazmi, Adam Sennet and Teemu Toppinen for their detailed comments. In addition, I would like to thank Christian Coons, Simon Kirchin, Nicholas Laskowski, David McNaughton, Wilson Mendonca, Claudia Passos, Peter Railton, Fabio Shecaira, Paul Teller, Julia Telles de Menezes, two anonymous referees, and the members of the Davis discussion group in ethics and related subjects.

References

  1. Bach, K. (1999). The myth of conventional implicature. Linguistics and Philosophy, 22(4), 327–366.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bratman, M. (2007). Structures of agency: Essays. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Braun, D. (1998). Understanding belief reports. The Philosophical Review, 107, 555–595.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Copp, D. (1995). Morality, normativity, and society. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Copp, D. (2007a). Morality in a natural world. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Copp, D. (2007b). Realist-expressivism: A neglected option for moral realism. In D. Copp, Morality in a natural world  (pp. 153–202).  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  Originally published in Social Philosophy and Policy, 18(2001), 1–43.Google Scholar
  7. Copp, D. (2009a). Realist-expressivism and conventional implicature. In R. Shafer-Landau (Ed.), Oxford studies in metaethics (Vol. 4, pp. 167–202). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Copp, D. (2009b). Toward a pluralist and teleological theory of normativity. Philosophical Issues, 19, 21–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Copp, D. (2012). Normativity and Reasons: Five Arguments from Parfit Against Normative Naturalism. In S. Nuccetelli & G. Seay (Eds.), Ethical naturalism: Current debates (pp. 24–57). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Copp, D. (2014). Can a Hybrid Theory Have it Both Ways: Moral Thought, Open Questions, and Moral Motivation. In G. Fletcher & M. Ridge (Eds.), Having it both ways (pp. 51–74). New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Copp, D. (2015a). Explaining normativity. Proceedings and Addresses of the APA, 89, 48–73.Google Scholar
  12. Copp, D. (2015b). Rationality and moral authority. In R. Shafer-Landau (Ed.), Oxford studies in metaethics (Vol. 10, pp. 134–159). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Copp, D. (2017). Normative Naturalism and Normative Nihilism: Parfit’s Dilemma for Naturalism. In S. Kirchin (Ed.), Reading Parfit on what matters (pp. 28–53). London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Darwall, S. (2006). The second-person standpoint: Morality, respect, and accountability. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Dreier, J. (2015). Another world: The metaethics and metametaethics of reasons fundamentalism. In R. Johnson & M. Smith (Eds.), Passions and projections: themes from the philosophy of Simon Blackburn (pp. 155–171). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Finlay, S. (2005). Value and implicature. Philosophers’ Imprint, 5(4), 1–20. Accessed at www.philosophersimprint.org/005004/.
  17. Frege, G. (1979).  In H. Hermes, F. Kambartel & F. Kaulbach (Eds.), Posthumous writings.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Frege, G. (1984).  In B. McGuinness (Ed.), Collected papers on mathematics, logic, and philosophy.  Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  19. Gibbard, A. (1990). Wise choices, apt feelings. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Mackie, J. L. (1977). Ethics: Inventing right and wrong. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  21. McKay, T., & Nelson, M. (2014). Propositional attitude reports. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (spring 2014 edition). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/prop-attitude-reports/.
  22. Potts, C. (2005). The logic of conventional implicatures. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Railton, P. (2003). Facts, values and norms: essays toward a morality of consequence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Salmon, N. (1986). Frege’s puzzle. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  25. Schwitzgebel, E. (2015). Belief. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (summer 2015 edition). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2015/entries/belief/.
  26. Sennet, A., & Copp, D. (2017). Pejoratives and ways of thinking. Analytic Philosophy (forthcoming).Google Scholar
  27. Smith, M. (1994). The moral problem. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  28. Soames, S. (2002). Beyond rigidity: The unfinished semantic agenda of naming and necessity. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Speaks, J. (2014). Theories of meaning. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (fall 2014 edition). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2014/entries/meaning/.
  30. Zangwill, N. (2003). Externalist moral motivation. American Philosophical Quarterly, 40, 143–154.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California, DavisDavisUSA

Personalised recommendations