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The Possibility of Philosophical UnderstandingReflections on the Thought of Barry Stroud$
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Jason Bridges, Niko Kolodny, and Wai-hung Wong

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195381658

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381658.001.0001

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Unsettling Subjectivism about Value

Unsettling Subjectivism about Value

(p.249) 12 Unsettling Subjectivism about Value
The Possibility of Philosophical Understanding

Sarah Stroud

Oxford University Press

This chapter probes Barry Stroud's steadfast opposition to metaphysical subjectivism about value. Stroud argues in his work that global subjectivism about evaluative matters is literally untenable: the chapter shows how this starting conclusion emerges from three key aspects of evaluative thought pressed by Stroud. The cognitivism, irreducibility, and indispensability of evaluative thought seem together to rule out noncognitivist, error-theoretic, and reductive response-dependent construals of the evaluative domain, thereby closing off a wide variety of routes to value subjectivism. The chapter suggests, however, that the conviction that evaluative matters somehow constitutively depend on us may survive Stroud's determined attempts at excision. The chapter also considers the relation of Stroud's work to mainstream contemporary metaethics, noting that—contrary to what one might suppose—Stroud does not see his arguments as supporting moral realism. In fact, Stroud's negative conclusion about value subjectivism is liable to unsettle both poles of contemporary metaethical debate.

Keywords:   value, subjectivism, metaethics, evaluative thought, error theory, intentional action, irreducibility, response-dependence

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