The Meaning of Ought: Beyond Descriptivism and Expressivism in Metaethics

Hardcover | November 6, 2015

byMatthew Chrisman

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The word 'ought' is one of the core normative terms, but it is also a modal word. In this book Matthew Chrisman develops a careful account of the semantics of 'ought' as a modal operator, and uses this to motivate a novel inferentialist account of why ought-sentences have the meaning that theyhave. This is a metanormative account that agrees with traditional descriptivist theories in metaethics that specifying the truth - conditions of normative sentences is a central part of the explanation of their meaning. But Chrisman argues that this leaves important metasemantic questions aboutwhat it is in virtue of which ought - sentences have the meanings that they have unanswered. His appeal to inferentialism aims to provide a viable anti-descriptivist but also anti-expressivist answer to these questions.

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The word 'ought' is one of the core normative terms, but it is also a modal word. In this book Matthew Chrisman develops a careful account of the semantics of 'ought' as a modal operator, and uses this to motivate a novel inferentialist account of why ought-sentences have the meaning that theyhave. This is a metanormative account that ...

Matthew Chrisman is a Reader in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. He came to Edinburgh after earning his PhD and MA at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his BA at Rice University. His research is focused on ethical theory, the philosophy of language, and epistemology. He has published widely in these areas, i...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:280 pages, 9.21 × 6.42 × 0.98 inPublished:November 6, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199363005

ISBN - 13:9780199363001

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"This is a remarkably bold and interesting book. Chrisman challenges nothing less than the entire conceptual framework within which most previous metaethics (and indeed, much other contemporary philosophy) has been done, and advances a very ambitious rethinking of the theoretical space. It'snot only ambitious, but also extremely imaginative and smart, and Chrisman's scholarship is at a rare level, as he has assimilated a literature that is unusually broad both in terms of field and historical scope." --Stephen Finlay, Professor of Philosophy, University of Southern California