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Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Volume 8$
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Russ Shafer-Landau

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199678044

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199678044.001.0001

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Truth Conditions and the Meanings of Ethical Terms 1

Truth Conditions and the Meanings of Ethical Terms 1

Chapter:
(p.195) 8 Truth Conditions and the Meanings of Ethical Terms1
Source:
Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Volume 8
Author(s):

Alex Silk

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199678044.003.0008

This chapter motivates and develops what can be called a condition semantics for moral terms. An important function of language is to distinguish among ways the world might be. But sentences can also distinguish among ways things might be more broadly. According to condition semantics, moral sentences conventionally distinguish among moral standards (or test whether a moral standard meets a certain condition) just as ordinary factual sentences conventionally distinguish among possible worlds (or test whether a possible world meets a certain condition). This point is captured formally within an extension of a familiar truth-conditional paradigm. The resulting analysis improves upon its main competitors: invariantism and contextualism. The framework of condition semantics also offers a perspicuous way of posing various classical metaethical questions—e.g. concerning relativism, expressivism, and judgement internalism. This can motivate clearer, better motivated answers and suggest new ways the dialectic may proceed.

Keywords:   condition semantics, invariantism, contextualism, relativism, expressivism, semantic competence, truth-conditions, attitude ascriptions

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