Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/202935
Title:
Against Metaethical Descriptivism: The Semantic Problem
Author:
Mitchell, Steven Cole
Issue Date:
2011
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Abstract:
In my dissertation I argue that prominent descriptivist metaethical views face a serious semantic problem. According to standard descriptivism, moral thought and discourse purports to describe some ontology of moral properties and/or relations: e.g., the term `good' purports to refer to some property or cluster of properties. Central to any such theory, then, is the recognition of certain items of ontology which, should they actually exist, would count as the referents of moral terms and concepts. And since one commonly accepted feature of moral thought and discourse is a supervenience constraint, descriptivists hold that any ontology suitable for morality would have to supervene upon non-moral ontology. But this lands descriptivists with the task of providing a semantic account capable of relating this ontology to moral terms and concepts. That is, they must explain why it is that certain items of ontology and not others would count as the referents of moral terms and concepts, in a way that is consistent with the supervenience constraint. I argue that this important explanatory task cannot be carried out. And because the problem generalizes from metaethics to all normativity, we are left with good reason to pursue alternatives to descriptivist accounts of normative semantics.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
Moral semantics; Supervenience; Philosophy; Metaethics; Moral realism
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Philosophy
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Timmons, Mark

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoenen_US
dc.titleAgainst Metaethical Descriptivism: The Semantic Problemen_US
dc.creatorMitchell, Steven Coleen_US
dc.contributor.authorMitchell, Steven Coleen_US
dc.date.issued2011-
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.rightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.en_US
dc.description.abstractIn my dissertation I argue that prominent descriptivist metaethical views face a serious semantic problem. According to standard descriptivism, moral thought and discourse purports to describe some ontology of moral properties and/or relations: e.g., the term `good' purports to refer to some property or cluster of properties. Central to any such theory, then, is the recognition of certain items of ontology which, should they actually exist, would count as the referents of moral terms and concepts. And since one commonly accepted feature of moral thought and discourse is a supervenience constraint, descriptivists hold that any ontology suitable for morality would have to supervene upon non-moral ontology. But this lands descriptivists with the task of providing a semantic account capable of relating this ontology to moral terms and concepts. That is, they must explain why it is that certain items of ontology and not others would count as the referents of moral terms and concepts, in a way that is consistent with the supervenience constraint. I argue that this important explanatory task cannot be carried out. And because the problem generalizes from metaethics to all normativity, we are left with good reason to pursue alternatives to descriptivist accounts of normative semantics.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectMoral semanticsen_US
dc.subjectSupervenienceen_US
dc.subjectPhilosophyen_US
dc.subjectMetaethicsen_US
dc.subjectMoral realismen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplinePhilosophyen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorTimmons, Marken_US
dc.contributor.committeememberTimmons, Marken_US
dc.contributor.committeememberGill, Michaelen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberHorgan, Terryen_US
All Items in UA Campus Repository are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.