Denial and retraction: a challenge for theories of taste predicates
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Sentences containing predicates of personal taste exhibit two striking features: (a) whether they are true seems to lie in the eye of the beholder and (b) whether they are true can be—and often is—subject to disagreement. In the last decade, there has been a lively debate about how to account for these two features. In this paper, I shall argue for two claims: first, I shall show that even the most promising approaches so far offered by proponents of so-called indexical contextualism fail to account for the disagreement feature. They might be able to account for some disagreement data, but they have trouble accounting for two kinds of disagreement data that caused the estrangement from indexical contextualism and the migration to relativism in the first place: the denial and the retraction data. Second, I shall show that we still do not have to abandon indexical contextualism, because what I shall call the superiority approach—a new pragmatically extended version of indexical contextualism—can very well account for the data.
KeywordsPredicates of personal taste Denial Retraction Contextualism Relativism
Earlier versions of this material were presented at various events including the workshop Mind, World and Action in Dubrovnic, the Joint Session in Stirling, the workshop Tiefe Meinungsverschiedenheiten in Berlin, a masterclass on relativism at the NIP in Aberdeen, Tobias Rosefeldt’s research seminar in Berlin, Benjamin Schnieder’s research seminar in Hamburg, and the GAP-Doktorandenworkshop. I am grateful to all these audiences for helpful feedback. Special thanks to Carl Baker, Ralf Busse, Catharine Diehl, Alexander Dinges, Andy Egan, Filippo Ferrari, Suki Finn, Vera Flocke, Thomas Kroedel, John MacFarlane, Giulia Pravato, Tobias Rosefeldt, Thomas Sattig, Isidora Stojanovic, Maik Suehr, Tim Sundell, Richard Woodward, Crispin Wright, Dan Zeman as well as two anonymous referees of this journal. Endless and eternal gratitude to Dan López de Sa for invaluable input and support. My research on this paper was conducted within the context of the DFG Emmy Noether Research Group Ontology After Quine (WO-1896/1-1). Many thanks to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft for supporting this project.
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