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Evaluative Discourse and Affective States of Mind
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy, Logic and Metaphysics.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Expressivists maintain that evaluative discourse expresses non-cognitve states of mind in a similar way to how ordinary descriptive language expresses beliefs. Conjoining an ordinary assertion that p with the denial of being in the corresponding belief-state that p famously gives rise to Moorean infelicity:

(i) ?? It’s raining but I don’t believe that it’s raining.

If expressivists are right, then conjoining evaluative statements with the denial of being in the requite non-cognitive state of mind should give rise to similar infelicity. However, as several theorists have pointed out, this does not seem to be the case. Statements like the following are not infelicitious:

(ii) Murder is wrong but I don’t disapprove of it.

In this paper, I argue that evaluative discourse expresses the kind of states which are attributed by ‘find’- constructions in English, and that these states are non-cognitive in nature. This addresses the problem of missing Moorean infelicity for expressivism, and it also tells us some interesting things about evaluative discourse in general.

Keywords [en]
Expressivism; Anti-realism; Evaluative Discourse; Aesthetic Discourse; Moral Discourse; Predicates of personal taste
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Research subject
Theoretical Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-356593OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-356593DiVA, id: diva2:1236348
Available from: 2018-08-02 Created: 2018-08-02 Last updated: 2018-08-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Sense and Sensibility: Four Essays on Evaluative Discourse
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Sense and Sensibility: Four Essays on Evaluative Discourse
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The subject of this thesis is the nature of evaluative terms and concepts. It investigates various phenomena that distinguish evaluative discourse from other types of language use. Broadly, the thesis argues that these differences are best explained by the hypothesis that evaluative discourse serves to communicate that the speaker is in a particular emotional or affective state of mind.

The first paper, “Aesthetic Evaluation and First-hand Experience”, examines the fact that it sounds strange to make evaluative aesthetic statements while at the same time denying that you have had first-hand experience with the object being discussed. It is proposed that a form of expressivism about aesthetic discourse best explains the data.

The second paper, “Evaluative Discourse and Affective States of Mind”, discusses the problem of missing Moorean infelicity for expressivism. It is argued that evaluative discourse expresses states of mind attributed by sentences of the form “Nils finds it wrong to tell lies”. These states, the paper argues, are non-cognitive, and the observation therefore addresses the problem of missing infelicity.

The third paper, “Sensibilism and Evaluative Supervenience”, argues that contemporary theories about why the moral supervenes on the non-moral have failed to account for the full extent of the phenomenon. Supervenience pertains not just to the moral but to the evaluative in general, it is a conceptual truth and it involves a relationship with a certain directionality. While all these points have been individually recognized at various points in the literature on moral supervenience, no theory accounts for all them. It is suggested that a kind of sensibilist semantics, according to which the extensions of evaluative terms are determined by how we feel about things, explains the full phenomenon.

The fourth paper, “Sensibilism and Imaginative Resistance”, discusses why we refuse to accept strange evaluative claims as being true in fictions, even though we are happy to accept other types of absurdities as fictionally true. The paper argues that the sensibilist semantics outlined in the third article offers a good diagnosis of the puzzle and compares this to other approaches.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Philosophy, 2018. p. 37
Keywords
aesthetics; aesthetic language; evaluative language; expressivism; Allan Gibbard; R.M. Hare; David Hume; John MacFarlane. metaethics; moral language; philosophy of language; predicates of personal taste; relativism; speech-acts
National Category
Humanities and the Arts
Research subject
Philosophy
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-356595 (URN)978-91-506-2717-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-09-20, Geijersalen, Thunbergsvägen 3H, Uppsala, 15:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Jag lyckas inte fylla i University of Leeds under "University, department", men det är alltså opponentens hemuniversitet. 

Available from: 2018-08-30 Created: 2018-08-02 Last updated: 2018-08-30

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