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Expressing Our AttitudesExplanation and Expression in Ethics, Volume 2$
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Mark Schroeder

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198714149

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198714149.001.0001

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Is Semantics Formal?

Is Semantics Formal?

(p.209) 8 Is Semantics Formal?
Expressing Our Attitudes

Mark Schroeder

Oxford University Press

As illustrated in the Introduction, many of the forms of expressivism considered in the essays in this volume look formally very much like relativism. So this chapter takes up the question of the extent to which formal semantics can be separated from the interpretation of our formal frameworks. Four simple nondescriptivist treatments of epistemic modals are compared: one dynamic, two expressivist, and one relativist. These views are used to illustrate both the temptations of the thought that formal semantics can be separated from interpretation, and the reasons why this thought needs to be resisted. The resulting treatment sheds light on how to think about the fact that, from a formal perspective, the expressivist theories discussed in the Introduction and Chapters 3, 4, and 7 bear a strong resemblance to relativism.

Keywords:   semantic theory, epistemic modals, dynamic semantics, expressivism, relativism

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