Quasi-Realism and Ethical Appearances

Harcourt, Edward
April 2005
Mind;Apr2005, Vol. 114 Issue 454, p249
Academic Journal
The paper develops an attack on quasi realism in ethics, according to which expressivism about ethical discourse—understood as the thesis that the states that discourse expresses are non representational—is consistent with some of the discourse's familiar surface features, thus ‘saving the ethical appearances’. A dilemma is posed for the quasi-realist. Either ethical discourse appears, thanks to those surface features, to express representational states, or else there is no such thing as its appearing to express such states. If the former then, by expressivism, the appearance presented by ethical discourse is false, so the ethical appearances are not saved. If the latter, it is unintelligible why an appeal to projection should be needed to explain how the surface features come to express non representational states if no explanation is needed—as evidently none is—to explain how they come to express representational states. The conclusion of this argument is then argued to converge with some other considerations which show that there is no gap between ethical discourse's possessing the surface features in question and its expressing representational states.


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