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Truth -- Meaning -- Reality$
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Paul Horwich

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199268900

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199268900.001.0001

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The Motive Power of Evaluative Concepts

The Motive Power of Evaluative Concepts

(p.167) 9 The Motive Power of Evaluative Concepts
Truth -- Meaning -- Reality

Paul Horwich (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   ought, meaning, Frege-Geach point, motivation, normative belief, use conception of meaning, normative facts, Blackburn, Gibbard, desire

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