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Oxford Studies in Metaethics Volume 14$
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Russ Shafer-Landau

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198841449

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198841449.001.0001

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Contextualism, Moral Disagreement, and Proposition Clouds

Contextualism, Moral Disagreement, and Proposition Clouds

(p.47) 3 Contextualism, Moral Disagreement, and Proposition Clouds
Oxford Studies in Metaethics Volume 14

Jussi Suikkanen

Oxford University Press

According to contextualist theories in metaethics, when a moral term is used in a context, the context plays an ineliminable part in determining what natural property will be the semantic value of the term. Furthermore, on subjectivist and relativist versions of these views, it is either the speaker’s own moral code or her moral community’s moral code that constitutes the reference-fixing context. One standard objection to views of this type is that they fail to enable disagreement in ordinary conversations. Chapter 3 develops a new response to this objection on the basis of Kai von Fintel and Anthony Gillies’s notion of proposition clouds. It is argued that, because we live in a multicultural society, the conversational contexts we face will fail to disambiguate between all the things we could mean. This is why we can at best put into play proposition clouds when we make moral utterances. All the propositions in such clouds are then available for rejection and acceptance on behalf of our audiences. The norms of conversation then guide us to make informative contributions to the conversation—accept and reject propositions in a way that leads to coordination of action and choice.

Keywords:   Contextualism, moral disagreement, moral relativism, moral semantics, multiculturalism, proposition clouds

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