Advertisement

Levels of Meaning and Moral Discourse

  • Marcelo Dascal
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 43)

Abstract

In a brief paper, in Hebrew, Professor Bar-Hillel has addressed himself to the task of explaining the often noticed peculiar characteristics of ‘moral sentences’1. He points out the peculiarities in question by contrasting, with respect to certain properties, a typical ‘moral sentence’ (e.g., ‘Stealing is wrong’) with a typical non–moral one (e.g. ‘All ravens are black’)2. Although both sentences are grammatically declarative, the latter is verifiable, its predicate is ‘directly observable’ and there is no doubt that it has a truth–value, whereas, whether the former has any of these three properties is open to serious question. These differences are sometimes presented as characterizing a more general opposition or ‘gap’ between two types of discourse, described by pairs of labels such as ‘evaluative’ vs. ‘factual’, ‘prescriptive’ vs. ‘descriptive’, ‘practical’ vs. ‘theoretical’, etc. ‘Moral sentences’ constitute only a subcategory - perhaps the most important one - of the first member of each pair, but the analysis of their peculiarities may be considered as paradigmatic for the whole type of discourse to which they belong. In order to explain these peculiarities, some philosophers simply deny that moral sentences have ‘cognitive meaning’ (since they cannot be true or false), and proceed to assign to them another type of ‘meaning’, the most usual one being the so-called ‘emotive meaning’. Others defend the cognitive meaningfulness of moral sentences, but postulate that they refer to a peculiar (‘non– natural’) kind of properties or to a special realm of ‘reality’ (the realm of ‘ values’).

Keywords

Noun Phrase Moral Philosophy Ethical Theory Lexical Entry Moral Argument 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Bibliography

  1. Ayer, A. J.: 1946, Language, Truth and Logic, 2d. ed., London.Google Scholar
  2. Bar-Hillel, Y.: 1954a, ‘Indexical Expressions’, in 1970b, pp. 68–88 (reprinted from Mind 63).Google Scholar
  3. Bar-Hillel, Y.: 1954b, ‘On the Nature of Moral Sentences’ (Hebrew), Lyyun 5, 19–23.Google Scholar
  4. Bar-Hillel, Y.: 1963a, ‘Can Indexical Sentences Stand in Logical Relations?’, in 1970b, pp. 112–115 (reprinted from Philosophical Studies 14).Google Scholar
  5. Bar-Hillel, Y.: 1963b, ‘The Betrayal of the Logicians’ (Hebrew), 1415,120–125.Google Scholar
  6. Bar-Hillel, Y.: 1966a, ‘Do Natural Languages Contain Paradoxes?’, in 1970b, 273– 285 (reprinted from Studium Generale 19)Google Scholar
  7. Bar-Hillel, Y.: 1966b, ‘Imperative Inference’, in 1970b, pp. 146–149 (reprinted from Analysis 26).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bar-Hillel, Y.: 1970a, ‘Communication and Argumentation in Pragmatic Languages’, in Linguaggi nella Societa e nella Tecnica, Milano, pp. 269–284.Google Scholar
  9. Bar-Hillel, Y.: 1970b, Aspects of Language, Jerusalem.Google Scholar
  10. Bierwisch, M.: 1971, ‘On Classifying Semantic Features’, in D. D. Steinberg and L. A. Jakobovits (eds.), Semantics–An Interdisciplinary Reader in Philosophy, Linguistics and Psychology, Cambridge, pp. 410–435.Google Scholar
  11. Black, M.: 1975, ‘Some Questions about “Practical Reasoning”’(Hebrew), in M. Dascal and A. Parush (eds.), The Rational and the Irrational, Beer-Sheva, pp. 48–59.Google Scholar
  12. Chisholm, R. M.: 1966, Theory of Knowledge, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  13. Dascal, M.: 1975, ‘Reason and the Mysteries of Faith–Leibniz on the Interpretation of Religious Discourse’ (Hebrew), in M. Dascal and A. Parush (eds.), The Rational and the Irrational, Beer-Sheva, pp. 88–122.Google Scholar
  14. Davidson, D.: 1967, ‘Truth and Meaning’, Synthèse 17, 304–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Ducrot, O.: 1973, La Preuve et le Dire, Paris.Google Scholar
  16. Feigl, H.: 1950, ‘The Mind-Body Problem in the Development of Logical Empiricism’, in H. Feigl and M. Brodbeck (eds.), Readings in the Philosophy of Science, New York, 1953, pp. 612–626 (reprinted from Revue Internationale de Philosophie 4).Google Scholar
  17. Fraser, B.: 1971, ‘An Examination of the Performative Analysis’, mimeographed, Bloomington, Indiana.Google Scholar
  18. Grice, H. P.: 1968, Logic and Conversation, mimeographed.Google Scholar
  19. Grize, J-B.: 1971, ‘Logique de 1’Argumentation et Discours Argumentatif’, Travaux du Centre de Recherches Semiologiques 7, Neuchâtel.Google Scholar
  20. Hare, R. M.: 1952, The Language of Morals, Oxford.Google Scholar
  21. Hare, R. M.: 1970, ‘Meaning and Speech Acts’, in Practical Inferences, Oxford, pp. 74–99 (reprinted from Philosophical Review 70).Google Scholar
  22. Harman, G.: 1968, ‘Three Levels of Meaning’, in D. D. Steinberg and L. A. Jacobovits (eds.), Semantics - An Interdisciplinary Reader in Philosophy, Linguistics and Psychology, Cambridge, 1971, pp. 66–75 (reprinted from The Journal of Philosophy 65 ).Google Scholar
  23. Harman, G.: 1972, ‘Deep Structure as Logical Form’, in D. Davidson and G. Harman (eds.), Semantics of Natural Language, Dordrecht, pp. 25–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Harman, G.: 1973, Thought, Princeton, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  25. Hempel, C. G.: 1966, Philosophy of Natural Science, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  26. Hempel, C. G. and Oppenheim, P.: 1948, ‘The Logic of Explanation’, in H. Feigl and M. Brodbeck (eds.), Readings in the Philosophy of Science, New York, 1953, pp. 319–352. (reprinted from Philosophy of Science 15).Google Scholar
  27. Kasher, A.: 1971, ‘Linguistics and Logic: Conspectus and Prospects’, mimeographed.Google Scholar
  28. Kasher, A.: 1974, ‘Mood Implicatures: A Logical Way of Doing Generative Pragmatics’, Theoretical Linguistics 1, 6–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kasher, A.: (this volume), ‘Conversational Maxims and Rationality’.Google Scholar
  30. Katz, J. J.: 1966, The Philosophy of Language, New York.Google Scholar
  31. Katz, J. J.: 1972, Semantic Theory, New York.Google Scholar
  32. Kneale, W.: 1949, ‘Induction, Explanation, and Transcendent Hypotheses’, in H. Feigl and M. Brodbeck (eds.), Readings in the Philosophy of Science, New York, 1953, 353–367 (reprinted from Probability and Induction, Oxford).Google Scholar
  33. Lewis, D.: 1972, ‘General Semantics’, in D. Davidson and G. Harman (eds.), Semantics of Natural Language, Dordrecht, pp. 169–218.Google Scholar
  34. Moore, G. E.: 1903, Principia Ethica, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  35. Moore, G. E.: 1922, Philosophical Studies, New York.Google Scholar
  36. Perelman, C.: 1971, ‘The New Rhetoric’, in Y. Bar-Hillel (ed.), Pragmatics of Natural Languages, Dordrecht, pp. 145–149.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Quine, W. V. O.: 1960, Word and Object, Cambridge, Mass.Google Scholar
  38. Ross, A.: 1968, Directives and Norms, London.Google Scholar
  39. Ross, J. R.: 1970, ‘On Declarative Sentences’, in R. Jacobs and P. Rosenbaum (eds.), Readings in Transformational Grammar, Waltham, Mass., pp. 222–272.Google Scholar
  40. Searle, J. R.: 1969, Speech Acts, Cambridge.Google Scholar
  41. Stalnaker, R. C.: 1972, ‘Pragmatics’, in D. Davidson and G. Harman (eds.), Semantics of Natural Languages, Dordrecht, pp. 380–397.Google Scholar
  42. Stevenson, C. L.: 1944, Ethics and Language, New Haven, Conn.Google Scholar
  43. Weiler, G.: 1954, ‘Bar-Hillel on the Nature of Moral Sentences’ (Hebrew), Iyyun 5, 217–20.Google Scholar
  44. von Wright, G. H.: 1971, Explanation and Understanding, Ithaca, N.Y.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht-Holland 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcelo Dascal
    • 1
  1. 1.Universidade Estadual de CampinasBrazil

Personalised recommendations