Postgraduates work in progress
Speaker: James Brown
Title: Conceptual Role Expressivism and Defective Concepts
Abstract: A number of philosophers have recently suggested that metaethical expressivists should embrace some kind of conceptual role semantics. According to expressivism, normative concepts should not be explained in terms of their reference or denotation, but in terms of their action-guiding role in practical deliberation. According to conceptual role semantics, concepts in general should be primarily explained in terms of their role in reasoning, deliberation, and belief formation. This talk has two aims. The first aim is to provide a fully general characterisation of ‘conceptual role expressivism’. The second aim is to raise a challenge for the view. The challenge is to explain why normative concepts are not a species of 'defective' concepts, where defective concepts are those that cannot participate in genuine inference. After arguing that existing versions of conceptual role expressivism fail to meet the challenge, I conclude with scepticism about how much expressivists gain by appealing to conceptual role semantics.