Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 639–662

Metaethics, teleosemantics and the function of moral judgements


DOI: 10.1007/s10539-012-9316-4

Cite this article as:
Sinclair, N. Biol Philos (2012) 27: 639. doi:10.1007/s10539-012-9316-4


This paper applies the theory of teleosemantics to the issue of moral content. Two versions of teleosemantics are distinguished: input-based and output-based. It is argued that applying either to the case of moral judgements generates the conclusion that such judgements have both descriptive (belief-like) and directive (desire-like) content, intimately entwined. This conclusion directly validates neither descriptivism nor expressivism, but the application of teleosemantics to moral content does leave the descriptivist with explanatory challenges which the expressivist does not face. Since teleosemantics ties content to function, the paper also offers an account of the evolutionary function of moral judgements.


Descriptivism Expressivism Gibbard Metaethics Millikan Teleosemantics 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

Personalised recommendations