Moral Fictionalism

Paperback | June 1, 2007

byMark Eli Kalderon

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Moral realists maintain that morality has a distinctive subject matter. Specifically, realists maintain that moral discourse is representational, that moral sentences express moral propositions - propositions that attribute moral properties to things. Non-cognitivists, in contrast, maintainthat the realist imagery associated with morality is a fiction, a reification of our non-cognitive attitudes. The thought that there is a distinctively moral subject matter is regarded as something to be debunked by philosophical reflection on the way moral discourse mediates and makes public ournoncognitive attitudes. The realist fiction might be understood as a philosophical misconception of a discourse that is not fundamentally representational but whose intent is rather practical. There is, however, another way to understand the realist fiction. Perhaps the subject matter of morality is a fiction that stands in no need of debunking, but is rather the means by which our attitudes are conveyed. Perhaps moral sentences express moral propositions, just as the realist maintains,but in accepting a moral sentence competent speakers do not believe the moral proposition expressed but rather adopt the relevant non-cognitive attitudes. Non-cognitivism, in its primary sense, is a claim about moral acceptance: the acceptance of a moral sentence is not moral belief but is someother attitude. Standardly, non-cognitivism has been linked to non-factualism - the claim that the content of a moral sentence does not consist in its expressing a moral proposition. Indeed, the terms 'non-cognitivism' and 'non-factualism' have been used interchangeably. But this misses an importantpossibility, since moral content may be representational but the acceptance of moral sentences might not be belief in the moral proposition expressed. This possibility constitutes a novel form of non-cognitivism, moral fictionalism. Whereas non-factualists seek to debunk the realist fiction of amoral subject matter, the moral fictionalist claims that that fiction stands in no need of debunking but is the means by which the non-cognitive attitudes involved in moral acceptance are conveyed by moral utterance. Moral fictionalism is non-cognitivism without a non-representational semantics.

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Moral realists maintain that morality has a distinctive subject matter. Specifically, realists maintain that moral discourse is representational, that moral sentences express moral propositions - propositions that attribute moral properties to things. Non-cognitivists, in contrast, maintainthat the realist imagery associated with moral...

Mark Eli Kalderon is in the Department of Philosophy, University College London.

other books by Mark Eli Kalderon

Format:PaperbackDimensions:208 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.79 inPublished:June 1, 2007Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199228043

ISBN - 13:9780199228041

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Moral Pyrrhonism and Noncognitivism2. The Pragmatic Fallacy3. The Varieties of Moral Irrealism4. Attitude, Affect, and AuthorityBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

`Review from previous edition Do we really believe the moral claims we make, or are we just pretending? In likely the most provocative metaethical book of 2005, Mark Eli Kalderon argues for "hermeneutical" moral fictionalism: our ordinary practice of moral judgement involves a form ofmake-believe rather than genuine belief. ... It is an important original contribution that should be read by all scholars and advanced students of metaethics, and will be of interest to those engaged in parallel debates in other areas of philosophy ... I admire the book greatly ... for its boldoriginality and creativity, its attention to detail, and its clear argument. It will deservedly invigorate the metaethical debate for some time to come.'Stephen Finlay, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews