Advertisement

Philosophical Studies

, Volume 159, Issue 3, pp 323–339 | Cite as

Is epistemic expressivism incompatible with inquiry?

  • J. Adam Carter
  • Matthew ChrismanEmail author
Article

Abstract

Expressivist views of an area of discourse encourage us to ask not about the nature of the relevant kinds of values but rather about the nature of the relevant kind of evaluations. Their answer to the latter question typically claims some interesting disanalogy between those kinds of evaluations and descriptions of the world. It does so in hope of providing traction against naturalism-inspired ontological and epistemological worries threatening more ‘realist’ positions. This is a familiar position regarding ethical discourse; however, some authors (e.g. Field 1996, 1998, 2009; Heller 1999; Gibbard 2003; Blackburn 1996; Chrisman 2007) have recently defended a similar view regarding epistemic discourse. Others (especially Kvanvig 2003; Cuneo 2007; Lynch 2009) have argued that epistemic expressivism faces special problems, not necessarily attaching to expressivism about other areas. Their arguments differ in interesting ways, but the common strategy is an attempt to show that the very sort of meta-epistemological theorizing needed to articulate and establish epistemic expressivism involves the epistemic expressivist in some sort of internal incoherence or self-defeat. That is, they think that articulating or defending the position requires implicit commitment to the negation of one of the positions’ core tenets. This paper responds to those arguments on behalf of epistemic expressivism, suggesting that they each misunderstand what is crucial to epistemic expressivism. By responding to these arguments, we hope to achieve more clarity about what epistemic expressivism is and why one might want to endorse it in a meta-epistemology.

Keywords

Epistemic expressivism Meta-epistemology Epistemic irrealism 

Notes

Acknowledgments

For helpful feedback on this paper, we would like to thank Terrence Cuneo, Klemens Kappel, Christos Kyriacou, Michael Lynch, and Michael Ridge.

References

  1. Ayer, A. J. (1952). Language, truth and logic (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Dover Publications.Google Scholar
  2. Blackburn, S. (1984). Spreading the word: Groundings in the philosophy of language. Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Blackburn, S. (1993). Essays in quasi-realism. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Blackburn, S. (1996). Securing the nots: Moral epistemology for the quasi-realist. In W. Sinnott-Armstrong & M. Timmons (Eds.), Moral knowledge: New readings in moral epistemology. Oxford University Press: New York, NY.Google Scholar
  5. Blackburn, S. (1998). Ruling passions: A theory of practical reasoning. Oxford: Clarendon Press; New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Carnap, R. (1935). Philosophy and logical syntax. London: Paul Kagan.Google Scholar
  7. Chrisman, M. (2007). From epistemic contextualism to epistemic expressivism. Philosophical Studies, 135, 225–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chrisman, M. (2008). Expressivism, inferentialism, and saving the debate. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 77(2), 334–358.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cuneo, T. (2007). The normative web: An argument for moral realism. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Dreier, J. (2004). Meta-ethics and the problem of creeping minimalism. Philosophical Perspectives, 18, 23–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Field, H. (1994). Disquotational truth and factually defective discourse. Philosophical Review, 103, 405–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Field, H. (1996). The a prioricity of logic. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 96, 359–379. [Reprinted in A. Casullo (Ed.), A priori knowledge. Dartmouth Publishing Company, 1999].Google Scholar
  13. Field, H. (1998). Epistemological nonfactualism and the a prioricity of logic. Philosophical Studies, 92, 1–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Field, H. (2001). Truth and the absence of fact. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Field, H. (2009). Epistemology without metaphysics. Philosophical Studies, 143, 249–290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fine, K. (2001). The question of realism. Philosophers’ Imprint, 1, 1–30.Google Scholar
  17. Gibbard, A. (2003). Thinking how to live. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Heller, M. (1999). The proper role for contextualism in an anti-luck epistemology. Noûs, 13, 115–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Kvanvig, J. L. (2003). The value of knowledge and the pursuit of understanding. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lynch, M. (2009). Truth, value and epistemic expressivism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 79, 76–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. O’Leary-Hawthorne, J., & Price, H. (1996). How to stand up for non-cognitivists. Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 74, 275–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Timmons, M. (1999). Morality without foundations. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Velleman, D. (2000). The possibility of practical reasoning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Wright, C. (1998). Truth and objectivity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of EdinburghEdinburghUnited Kingdom

Personalised recommendations