The Motive Power of Evaluative Concepts
The focus here is on the emotivist/expressivist contention that normative concepts are constituted non-cognitively, by their motivational role. This chapter defends that contention against the influential double-barreled objection (known as the Frege-Geach point) that (i) deployments of such concepts often have no motivational import, and that (ii) unless normative pronouncements express genuine beliefs (rather than mere desires) the validity of inferences amongst them cannot be accommodated. It is suggested here, in response, that that the use conception of meaning provides a general perspective from which this objection can be deflected. For we can suppose that the meaning of a primitive normative term (e.g., ‘ought’) is constituted by the tendency for certain desire-like states to causally correlate with the internal acceptance of certain sentences containing these terms (hence, with the beliefs that are expressed by those sentences). Thus (and pace Blackburn and Gibbard) we can accommodate the essential motivational import of certain normative beliefs without compromising either on their genuineness, or on the reality of the normative facts that make them true or false.
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