Josh Schechter, Brown University. "Does Expressivism Have an Epistemological Advantage Over Realism?"
Part of the Department of Philosophy's Sapientia Lecture Series, funded by The Mark J. Byrne 1985 Fund in Philosophy. Free and open to all. Reception follows.
ABSTRACT: Expressivism about a discourse is (roughly) the view that the primary function of sentences of that discourse is not to represent facts but to express mental states. One of the motivations for expressivism about morality is that it apparently avoids the epistemological worries that bedevil moral realism. In this paper, I argue that the main epistemological problem for moral realism is the "reliability challenge" – given realism, it seems impossible to explain the reliability of our moral beliefs. (This challenge is related to, but interestingly different from Street's "Darwinian dilemma".) I argue that contemporary forms of moral expressivism do not enjoy an epistemological advantage over realism since they do not have any distinctive resources that they can appeal to in order to answer this challenge. Finally, I respond to a recent "non-°©‐constructive" argument by Dreier that suggests that the expressivist, unlike the realist, is immune to the reliability challenge.
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