Confusion of Tongues: A Theory of Normative Language by Stephen Finlay

Confusion of Tongues: A Theory of Normative Language

byStephen Finlay

Paperback | November 1, 2016

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Can normative words like "good," "ought," and "reason" be defined in entirely non-normative terms? Confusion of Tongues argues that they can, advancing a new End-Relational theory of the meaning of this language as providing the best explanation of the many different ways it is ordinarilyused. Philosophers widely maintain that analyzing normative language as describing facts about relations cannot account for special features of particularly moral and deliberative uses of normative language, but Stephen Finlay argues that the End-Relational theory systematically explains these onthe basis of a single fundamental principle of conversational pragmatics. These challenges comprise the central problems of metaethics, including the connection between normative judgment and motivation, the categorical character of morality, the nature of intrinsic value, and the possibility ofnormative disagreement. Finlay's linguistic analysis has deep implications for the metaphysics, epistemology, and psychology of morality, as well as for the nature and possibility of normative ethical theory. Most significantly it supplies a nuanced answer to the ancient Euthyphro Question ofwhether we desire things because we judge them good, or vice versa. Normative speech and thought may ultimately be just a manifestation of our nature as intelligent animals motivated by contingent desires for various conflicting ends.

About The Author

Stephen Finlay is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southern California. He is the author of a number of articles on metaethics and moral psychology. Originally from New Zealand, he lives in Pomona, California with his wife and three daughters.
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Title:Confusion of Tongues: A Theory of Normative LanguageFormat:PaperbackDimensions:288 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.03 inPublished:November 1, 2016Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190649631

ISBN - 13:9780190649630

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"Stephen Finlay's Confusion of Tongues (COT) is an ambitious book. Its first half advances a unifying semantics for normative words, including 'good', 'ought', and 'reason'. In the second half, he argues that this semantics, combined with a single pragmatic principle, can explain the uses ofsuch expressions of special interest to ethicists. COT's engagement with these topics is rich and complex." --Mind