Norm-Expressivism and the Frege-Geach Problem

EPISTEME, Dec 2009

How successful is Allan Gibbard’s attempt to solve the Frege-Geach problem for moral non-cognitivism? This author argues that Gibbard is on the right track with his formalism, but is missing an argument about inconsistency that matches the strength of truth-functional logic. The paper includes discussions of non-cognitivism, the Frege-Geach problem, a summary of Gibbard’s argumentation, and summaries of various strong criticisms of Gibbard’s efforts. The author emphasizes the weakness of relying on practical considerations when it comes to consistency between all possible normative moral judgments, yet supports Schroeder’s insight that might help to improve Gibbard’s reasoning.

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https://digitalcommons.denison.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1123&context=episteme

Norm-Expressivism and the Frege-Geach Problem

Norm-Expressivism and the Frege-Geach Problem Megan Blomfield Mcording to this position, utterances such as oral non-cognitivism1 is the metaethical view that denies that moral statements are truth-apt. Ac“violence is wrong” and “kindness is good” do not express beliefs or possess truth-values; instead, they express certain non-cognitive attitudes similar to desires or intentions. Noncognitivism meets a serious challenge with what is known as the Frege-Geach problem. The essential difficulty is that even if it is possible to give a convincing account regarding how simple moral utterances like those above express certain non-cognitive attitudes, the non-cognitivist owes an explanation as to what those same moral sentences mean when they appear as embedded components in more complex sentences. For example, what is taking place when somebody claims that if violence is wrong, then it's wrong to kill spiders? Furthermore, if moral statements have no truth-values, then how is it that they can apparently be - “Norm-Expressivism and the Frege-Geach Problem” was one of Megan Blomfield's final essays for her undergraduate degree at the University of Bristol, from which she graduated in July 2008. Since then she has been taking some time off to gather her thoughts, but has been offered a place at the University of Toronto where she plans to begin her MA in Philosophy later this year. Megan enjoys philosophy because it is such a varied field and her interests range from political philosophy to the philosophy of physics. However, since she tends to find herself writing about the philosophy of language even when she sets out to write a paper on ethics, it seems likely that this is where her studies will eventually lead her to specialize. included in valid logical arguments? In this essay I shall discuss one of the more recent attempts at solving the Frege-Geach problem: that of Allan Gibbard. Gibbard develops a form of non-cognitivism which he dubs ‘norm-expressivism.’ I shall explain what normexpressivism is, and how it is supposed to deal with the FregeGeach problem. I will then look at the objection that Gibbard fails to really explain what is wrong with accepting the premises of a valid moral argument while denying the conclusion. I agree with this criticism and conclude that Gibbard’s account, as it stands, doesn’t deal satisfactorily with the Frege-Geach problem. I will then briefly discuss whether Gibbard has the resources to adapt norm-expressivism in such a way that this problem might be fixed. II. MORAL NON-COGNITIVISM Non-cognitivism in ethics has taken various forms, from the emotivism of A.J. Ayer to Simon Blackburn’s quasi-realism. The main claim made in such views is that moral statements do not actually express propositions or predicate properties of the world, so they are not truth-apt. Furthermore, when a person makes a moral judgment he or she is not primarily expressing a belief—or any other type of cognitive psychological state—but is rather expressing some sort of non-cognitive attitude, more like an emotion or a desire. To give an example: according to non-cognitivism, when I say “violence is wrong” I am not predicating violence with the property of wrongness, and I am not expressing the belief that violence is wrong. Rather, I am expressing some sort of noncognitive attitude which I hold towards violence—something like disapproval, perhaps. It is important to note also that I am not asserting that I hold this non-cognitive attitude towards violence. My utterance expresses the attitude itself; it does not assert the proposition or fact that I have that attitude. Noncognitive attitudes like feelings of approval and disapproval are not the sort of things that can be true or false; hence, moral statements lack truth-values. One of the main benefits of non-cognitivism is that it is more metaphysically parsimonious and less epistemically problematic than its realist metaethical rivals. By denying that moral statements are truth-apt, we can avoid the need for a distinct realm of moral facts, knowledge of which our ethical investigation is somehow supposed to strive towards. Adopting noncognitivism in order to obtain such benefits, however, will only be worthwhile if it is still possible to make sense of our moral practice. The Frege-Geach problem suggests that the noncognitivist might not actually be able to do so. III. THE FREGE-GEACH PROBLEM The Frege-Geach,2 or embedding, problem is seen by many as “the rock on which expressive theories founder.”3 The basic difficulty is this: even if the non-cognitivist can make a convincing case that simple predicative moral utterances, such as “violence is wrong,” are expressions of non-cognitive attitudes (let’s say that “violence is wrong” expresses a disapproving attitude towards violence), an explanation still remains to be given of the meaning and function of moral sentences which appear in embedded contexts. To return to the example above, how does “violence is wrong” function when it appears as an embedded component of this more complex sentence: “if violence is wrong, then it’s wrong to kill spiders?” Someone who makes this utterance does not say that violence is wrong, so it simply isn’t plausible to say that he or she is expressing the same disapproving attitude towards violence. Someone could make such a claim while holding a thoroughly approving attitude towards violence, or not holding any non-cognitive attitude towards violence at all. Clearly the non-cognitivist has to give a more detailed explanation of the semantics of moral sentences. One obvious solution would be to posit an ambiguity of meaning between simple moral sentences and those that appear as unasserted components of more complex sentences. However, this option leads to further difficulties which make it unacceptable. Consider the following argument: P1 P2 C1 If violence is wrong, then it’s wrong to kill spiders. Violence is wrong. It’s wrong to kill spiders. This argument is intuitively valid, but if ‘violence is wrong’ had a different meaning in P1 and P2, then somebody reasoning thusly would be guilty of equivocation. C1 only follows from the premises if “violence is wrong” has the same meaning in each. Geach objects that such arguments cannot contain “a fallacy of equivocation” because they are “in fact clearly valid.”4 What the argument actually illustrates is the way that “a proposition may occur in discourse now asserted, now unasserted, and yet be recognisably the same proposition.”5 This is what Geach terms “the Frege point.” It offers a “simple and decisive proof” that the non-cognitivist cannot postulate an ambiguity of meaning between simple and embedded moral expressions.6 Furthermore, even if the non-cognitivist could give a uniform account of the semantics of moral sentences, there is still more to explain regarding the validity of moral modus ponens. Conventionally, an argument is said to be valid if and only if the truth of the premises guarantees the truth of the conclusion. How, then, can non-cognitivists explain the validity of the above argument when, according to their view, at least P2 and C1 are certain to lack truth values? The Frege-Geach problem threatens to be disastrous for the non-cognitivist. Our ability to engage in moral reasoning and debate depends on our ability to make sense of complex moral sentences and the inferences we can draw from our moral judgments. The non-cognitivist must provide a plausible account of the semantics of moral sentences in both simple and embedded contexts that is able to preserve the inferences of intuitively valid moral arguments. In what follows, I will be discussing whether Gibbard is able to achieve this with his normexpressivism. IV. NORM-EXPRESSIVISM AND RATIONALITY Gibbard presents his norm-expressivist proposal in Wise Choices, Apt Feelings. Rationality takes center stage in his discussion, which is first and foremost an account of what we are doing when we judge certain things to be rational or irrational. The way Gibbard sees it, to engage in normative inquiry—“to reason about how to live”—is essentially to inquire as to “what kind of life it is rational to live.”7 Gibbard argues that normative judgments—judgments about what it is rational to do, think, or feel—do not predicate certain thoughts or actions with the property of ‘being rational,’ and they do not express beliefs about certain normative facts which hold in the world. To utter a normative judgment is not to state a matter of fact, but rather to express a “state of mind.”8 The judgment that something is rational is non-cognitive, and as a result it is not apt for truth or falsity. In more detail, Gibbard claims that “to call something rational is to express one’s acceptance of a system of norms that permits it,”9 a norm being “a possible rule or prescription, expressible by an imperative.”10 For example, my judgment that it is rational to add boiling water before milk when making a cup of tea expresses my acceptance of norms—rules or prescriptions—that permit, in a tea-making situation, adding boiling water before milk. Again it is important to note that in uttering a normative judgment you do not say that you are in a certain state of mind, or say that you accept a certain system of norms; you simply express your acceptance or state of mind itself. Actually being in that state of mind, then, “constitutes not speaking truly, but being sincere.”11 A system of norms is “the end result of the ways the various general normative principles a person accepts combine, weigh against each other, and override one another.”12 Gibbard characterizes a system of norms, N, as a group of predicates Nforbidden, N-required and N-optional, where N-x is to be read ‘x according to system of norms N.’13 These predicates are descriptive rather than normative—whether or not something is forbidden, required or optional according to a given system of norms is a matter of fact. Systems of norms “apply to alternatives of some kind;” they apply to alternative courses of action, for example.14 A given system, N, is complete if, for every possible occasion, every available alternative is either N-forbidden, N-required or Noptional. N is consistent if no more than one of these predicates is applicable to any alternative.15 According to a complete and consistent set of norms, then, the alternative which is the act of killing spiders will be at least one of required, forbidden or optional (and no more than one of these things). These basic predicates can be used to construct others; in particular, N-permitted means “either N-optional or N-required.”16 V. NORM-EXPRESSIVISM AND MORALITY Gibbard’s analysis extends to morality because he thinks that moral norms form a subset of the norms of rationality. Gibbard thinks that moral judgments do not express feeling—as the emotivist might claim—but rather judgments of “what moral feelings it is rational to have.”17 The peculiarly moral sentiments that Gibbard has in mind are feelings of guilt and anger. Put simply, Gibbard claims that “what a person does is morally wrong if and only if it is rational for him to feel guilty for having done it and for others to be angry at him for having done it.”18 So, for example, if I kill a spider, my actions are morally wrong if and only if it is rational for me to feel guilty about doing so, and for others to feel angry at me for doing so. Moral norms “are thus explained in terms of norms for guilt and resentment.”19 Since judgments concerning what feelings it is rational to have are non-cognitive according to Gibbard, this provides a non-cognitive analysis of moral judgments as well. To judge that it is rational for me to feel guilty about killing spiders, for example, is to express a mental state—the mental state that is acceptance of a system of norms that permits me to feel guilty for killing spiders. This, to an “approximation,” is Gibbard’s normexpressivistic analysis. In order to handle the Frege-Geach problem, however, he thinks that a “substantial transformation” is in order.20 It is this transformation that I shall turn to next. VI. GIBBARD’S SOLUTION TO THE FREGE-GEACH PROBLEM In order to tackle the Frege-Geach problem, Gibbard employs possible worlds semantics to “develop a formal representation of the ‘normative content’ expressed by normative statements.”21 Gibbard starts by defining “a completely opinionated credal-normative state.”22 He does this by asking us to imagine a goddess “who is entirely coherent and completely opinionated both normatively and factually.” In other words, there is a complete and consistent way she thinks the world to be, w. Furthermore she accepts a complete and consistent system of norms, n. W and n then constitute the “completely opinionated credalnormative state,” which Gibbard also terms a “factual-normative world <w, n>.” A factual-normative world is essentially the familiar notion of a possible world,23 combined with a complete and consistent set of norms. The factual circumstances surrounding every alternative in a given factual-normative world are completely determinate. Because n is complete and consistent, each of these alternatives is one of n-required, n-forbidden or n-optional (and no more than one of these things). Given this, and given that which alternatives are permitted or forbidden by any system of norms is a matter of fact, “any particular normative judgment holds or not, as a matter of logic, in the factual-normative world <w, n>.”24 In other words, w and n “entail a normative judgment for every occasion.” In reality, however, nobody is like such a goddess. Gibbard therefore goes on to define a way of representing what mere mortals like ourselves accept factually and normatively. One can use possible worlds semantics to represent the content of factual propositions by associating a proposition with the set of possible worlds in which it is true. Gibbard suggests, analogously, that a given normative statement, S, can be represented by the set of all factual-normative worlds for which it holds.25 To see whether S holds in a given factual-normative world, first the normative predicates in the sentence are replaced by their n-corresponding descriptive predicates. ‘Rational,’ for example, gets replaced by ‘n-permitted,’ and ‘irrational’ gets replaced by ‘n-forbidden.’ If the resulting sentence is true in w— which will be a matter of fact, since n-predicates are purely descriptive—then the original sentence is said to hold in <w, n>. Gibbard denotes the set of factual-normative worlds in which a given normative statement, S, holds: OS.26 Now that we’re able to say what it is for a normative statement to hold in a factual-normative world, Gibbard thinks that if we simply add the dictum “the content of a normative statement is the set of factual-normative worlds for which the statement holds” then we have a way of solving the embedding problem.27 I’ll return to my example to make this clearer. The statement “if violence is wrong, then it’s wrong to kill spiders,” is firstly to be read: T: “if it is rational to feel angry at someone who commits acts of violence, then it is rational to feel angry at someone who kills spiders.”28 This is translated into the statement: Tn: “if it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who commits acts of violence, then it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who kills spiders.” T holds in a given factual-normative world <w, n> if and only if Tn is true in w. Since sentences containing n-predicates are descriptive rather than expressive, the grammatical complexity of Tn causes no problems for ascertaining whether or not Tn holds in a given factual-normative world. Whether or not it is, say, npermitted to feel angry at someone who kills spiders in a given world will simply be a matter of fact. The content of T is then represented by the set of all factual-normative worlds in which it holds, a set that is denoted OT. The content of simple and complex normative utterances alike can therefore be represented using this formalism, even when the statements concerned have unasserted moral sentences as components. Gibbard’s norm-expressivistic analysis thus provides a uniform account of the semantics of moral sentences in both simple and embedded contexts. This formalism also gives Gibbard a way of defining the logical relations that hold among normative statements. Factualnormative world semantics functions analogously to possible worlds semantics. For example, the content of P is said to entail the content of Q29 “if and only if Q holds in all the factualnormative worlds in which P holds.”30 This will be the case if the set of <w, n> that represents P is a subset of the set of <w, n> that represents Q. To return to my original example of moral modus ponens, given its translation: P1n It is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who commits acts of violence. P2n If it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who commits acts of violence, then it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who kills spiders. The conjunction of two normative statements is represented by the intersection of the sets that represent their respective contents. The sets representing the contents of the premises are: OP1 = {<w, n>| in w it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who commits acts of violence} OP2 = {<w, n>| in w, if it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who commits acts of violence, then it is npermitted to feel angry at someone who kills spiders} Using OP to represent the conjunction (so the intersection) of OP1 and OP2 we get: OP = {<w, n>| in w it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who commits acts of violence and it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who kills spiders} So OP represents the content of the premises of this argument. The conclusion is translated: C1n It is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who kills spiders. Let OC represent the content of the conclusion, where: OC = {<w, n>| in w it is n-permitted to feel angry at someone who kills spiders} OC clearly contains OP as a subset. This means that every factualnormative world in which the premises hold is a factualnormative world in which the conclusion holds, and the content of the premises therefore entails the content of the conclusion. According to Gibbard, herein lies the validity of the original moral argument. VII. DOES GIBBARD’S SOLUTION WORK? Some have questioned whether Gibbard’s account really succeeds in explaining why someone who accepts P1 and P2 would be committed to accepting C1. Blackburn objects that Gibbard fails to tell us what we can actually say “to someone who refuses to hear the wrong combination as ruled out by logic.”31 The norms accepted by mere mortals aren’t complete and aren’t necessarily consistent. Imagine that I accept a system of norms which forbids violence, and which also says that if violence is forbidden, then killing spiders is forbidden. Why is there a problem if the norms that I accept do not also forbid killing spiders? The essential problem, Sinnott-Armstrong agrees, is that “it is not enough simply to define validity so that modus ponens comes out valid. Valid arguments have force because there is something wrong with asserting the premises and denying the conclusion of a valid argument.”32 The question that remains to be answered, then, is what is wrong with accepting P1 and P2 but denying C1 on the norm-expressivistic analysis. According to Gibbard’s formalism, “normative statements rule each other out if their representations have no factualnormative world in common.” A normative statement is then said to be “inconsistent” with the “various combinations of factual possibilities with normative principles” that it rules out.33 So, since every factual-normative world in which P1 and P2 hold is a factual-normative world in which C1 holds, accepting these premises rules out all factual-normative worlds in which the conclusion does not hold. In other words, accepting the premises of this argument is inconsistent with denying the conclusion: somebody who holds P1 and P2 but denies C1 accepts inconsistent normative statements. The problem now, however, is that “we still need to ask: what’s wrong with inconsistency?”34 For a realist it is easy to explain what’s wrong with accepting inconsistent moral statements: moral inquiry aims at truth, “and if our normative judgments are inconsistent, they cannot all be true.”35 What the non-cognitivists need to do is come up with an equally good explanation as to what is wrong with inconsistent normative or moral judgments according to their account. VIII. GIBBARD’S INITIAL ATTEMPT In Wise Choices, Gibbard gives a pragmatic explanation of the value of consistency. Being inconsistent and failing to resolve our preferences “lays us open to a special kind of selffrustration.”36 Since the norms you accept will “involve tendencies to action,” accepting inconsistent norms might mean that your actions lead to results that you find “unacceptable.” Furthermore, the norms you accept are of vital importance in your normative reasoning and engagement in beneficial normative debate. If you make inconsistent normative judgments then you risk “opting out of normative discussion altogether, or discovering that [you] can no longer get others to take [your] claims seriously.”37 Inconsistency, then, can be costly in various ways, and this provides motivation for trying to avoid accepting inconsistent normative statements. However, as Sinnott-Armstrong argues against Gibbard, inconsistency doesn’t necessarily bring an end to beneficial normative debate.38 Furthermore, one can easily think of many instances in which there seem to be no practical benefits at all to be derived from normative consistency. For example, I doubt I will incur any practical costs by being thoroughly inconsistent in my thoughts about what would be morally required of me if I found myself one of the only two survivors of a nuclear holocaust. The problem for Gibbard’s initial account is that “the pragmatic costs either do not arise or are overridden in many cases of inconsistency. But there is still something wrong with the inconsistent normative beliefs in these cases.”39 Gibbard simply fails to explain what is special about logically valid normative and moral arguments. It seems that any sort of attempt to explain logical commitment in terms of practical commitment is bound to fail. Logical necessity is just stronger than practical necessity—it’s the strongest kind of necessity there is. The FregeGeach problem is not yet solved. IX. GIBBARD’S SECOND ATTEMPT In response to criticism along these lines, Gibbard gives a further explanation of what’s wrong with normative inconsistency.40 In order to make his account plausible, Gibbard wants the problem with accepting inconsistent normative statements to be analogous to the problem with accepting inconsistent factual statements. However, since the norm-expressivist cannot say that the problem with accepting an inconsistent set of normative statements is that one of them will be false, Gibbard instead suggests that the problem with both factual and normative inconsistency is that it rules out “all full possibilities.”41 According to Gibbard’s formalism, a set of logically inconsistent factual statements is represented by the empty set since they cannot simultaneously hold in any factual-normative worlds.42 The same goes for a set of inconsistent normative statements. So far we have an analogy between inconsistent statements of both kinds. The next step, however, is to explain what exactly is wrong with ruling out all full possibilities. For purely factual statements, ruling out all full possibilities means ruling out all possible worlds—or “all full ways the world might be.”43 Gibbard claims that this is the “general defect” of “jointly inconsistent factual statements.” If you rule out all possible worlds, however, then you also rule out the actual world, and this leads to the “special defect” of jointly inconsistent factual statements: they cannot all be true. Can we say something analogous about the problem with ruling out all “full possibilities” in the purely normative realm? For purely normative statements, ruling out all full possibilities means ruling out all complete and consistent sets of norms, where such a set of norms can be viewed as an “ideally detailed contingency plan, a plan for what to do (or think or feel) in every imaginable circumstance.” The “general defect” of jointly inconsistent normative statements, then, is that they rule out all “full contingency [plans].”44 The problem now, as Wedgwood points out, is that we can still ask: “what is wrong with that?”45 If Gibbard is to stick to the analogy between factual and normative statements, then it seems as though the problem would be that if you rule out all full contingency plans, then you also rule out the correct full contingency plan—or the complete and consistent set of norms that actually holds. But there isn’t a ‘correct’ system of norms—if there were, then our moral statements would be truth-apt after all.46 This cannot, therefore, be the problem with ruling out all full possibilities in the purely normative realm. So what is wrong with ruling out all full contingency plans? Gibbard claims that “such an ideal plan is the full practical import of a complete system of norms.”47 If you accept inconsistent normative statements, there is no way of adding to your present normative commitments that would eventually result in your having “a normative judgment for every occasion.”48 It seems again, then, that the problem with accepting inconsistent normative statements only rests on pragmatic considerations. Furthermore, I am not convinced that the fact that normative inconsistency rules out all ideal contingency plans is actually something that would provide much motivation for avoiding it. Such a plan is an unattainable ideal anyway (except for goddesses) and one which mere mortals simply do not need—we do not need to have a normative judgment for every possible occasion, no matter how far-fetched and unlikely. Gibbard still only provides an account of why accepting inconsistent normative statements is practically problematic, not why it is logically problematic. He fails to address the problem that “logic is one thing, pragmatic incoherence … another,”49 and norm-expressivism is therefore unable to preserve all the inferences of logically valid moral arguments. X. DOES GIBBARD HAVE THE RESOURCES TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM? One thing that Gibbard’s formalism does succeed in doing is providing a way of representing the content of normative statements according to which, for example, the content of the statement “violence is forbidden” is inconsistent with the content of the statement “violence is not forbidden” (because their representations have no factual-normative world in common). I agree with Blackburn that what Gibbard now needs is “a more basic story about the states of mind expressed that makes it plain how they can be candidates for opposition and denial, and thence … why we can naturally and justifiably invent pieces of content—p and ¬p respectively—as the focus for those oppositions.”50 Essentially, the states of mind expressed by normative statements are “the only resource that expressivists have to appeal to” in their explanation of logical validity.51 What we need is a plausible explanation of why the state of mind expressed by “violence is forbidden” is opposed to, or inconsistent with, the state of mind expressed by “violence is not forbidden.” The reason why such an explanation would be useful is that Gibbard might then be able to account for the logical relations that hold between normative statements by claiming that in both the factual and the normative realm “two sentences are inconsistent just in case the mental states that they express are.”52 As Gibbard’s account stands, even though the content of “violence is forbidden” is inconsistent with the content of “violence is not forbidden,” it just isn’t clear why the states of mind involved in judging either of these to hold should also be inconsistent. It isn’t clear why the state of mind that you’re in when you accept a system of norms according to which p is inconsistent with the state of mind that you’re in when you accept a system of norms according to which ¬p. The difficulty is that some attitudes preserve the inconsistency of their contents, and others do not. The belief that p is inconsistent with the belief that ¬p, Zangwill claims, “because of the contradiction between their contents.”53 Wishing that p and wishing that ¬p, on the other hand, is not inconsistent even though the contents of these wishes are.54 Believing is, whereas wishing is not, an example of what Schroeder terms an “inconsistency-transmitting attitude.” According to Schroeder’s definition, “an attitude A is inconsistency-transmitting just in case two instances of A are inconsistent in case their contents are inconsistent.”55 The problem for Gibbard, then, is that there isn’t sufficient reason to suppose that the attitude involved in accepting a system of norms is inconsistency-transmitting. There is hope for the norm-expressivist, however. Schroeder suggests that one good non-cognitive candidate for being an inconsistencytransmitting attitude is intention.56 What Gibbard might be able to do, then, is adapt norm-expressivism so that the state of mind involved in accepting a system of norms is more like the state of mind involved in having an intention, or some other noncognitive attitude which plausibly preserves the inconsistency of its contents. It is possible that such an adapted version of normexpressivism would be able to solve the Frege-Geach problem. XI. CONCLUSION Gibbard’s attempt at solving the Frege-Geach problem, although it succeeds in providing a uniform representation of the content of simple and complex normative statements, is unable to capture what is special about logical validity. I have argued that both of Gibbard’s attempts to explain what’s wrong with accepting the premises but denying the conclusion of a logically valid moral argument fail. Gibbard’s accounts rely on the pragmatic need for consistency, and the demand for logical consistency is stronger. I have suggested that it may nevertheless be possible to adapt norm-expressivism to deal with this problem. Gibbard’s formalism provides a way of representing the relations which hold between the contents of normative statements. What he needs now is an explanation of why the states of mind involved in making normative judgments with inconsistent contents are themselves inconsistent. If he can do this, then he might be able to give a plausible account of logical inconsistency in both the factual and the normative realm by arguing that statements are logically inconsistent when the mental states that they express are logically inconsistent. In other words, what would be wrong with accepting the premises but denying the conclusion of a moral argument would be that the states of mind involved in doing these two things are actually inconsistent with each other. NOTES 1 Also commonly termed ‘expressivism.’ 2 So named because it was first posed as a problem for the noncognitivist by Geach, who accredited the insight to Frege (Geach, “Assertion,” 449). 3 Blackburn, “Wise Feelings, Apt Reading,” 349. 4 Geach, “Ascriptivism,” 223. 5 Geach, “Assertion,” 449. 6 Blackburn, Spreading the Word, 190. 7 Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings, 4. 8 Ibid., 8. 9 Gibbard, “Précis of Wise Choices, Apt Feelings,” 943. 10 Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings, 46. 11 Ibid., 84. 12 Ibid., 95. 13 Ibid., 87. 14 Ibid., 87. 15 Ibid., 88. 16 Ibid., 87. 17 Ibid., 6. 18 Ibid., 42. Gibbard actually refines this analysis to allow for extenuating circumstances involving diminished responsibility (ibid., 45), but the more basic proposal will suffice for this discussion. 19 Ibid., 47. 20 Ibid., 92. 21 Ibid., 94. 22 Ibid., 95. 23 Gibbard intends possible worlds to be characterized according to Stalnaker’s conception (Ibid., 95 fn.1). Stalnaker takes possible worlds to be irreducible abstract entities. These entities can be viewed as uninstantiated possible states of the world, or rather “ways things might have been” (Stalnaker, “Possible Worlds,” 68). 24 Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings, 95. 25 Ibid., 96. 26 Ibid., 96-7. 27 Ibid., 97. 28 Strictly, of course, this should also mention the rationality of feelings of guilt, but this approximation will do here for the sake of brevity. 29 It doesn’t matter if P and Q are normative or descriptive statements. Either can be represented using Gibbard’s apparatus (a descriptive statement contains no normative predicates which need to be replaced with n-corresponding descriptive predicates, so it simply holds in all factual-normative worlds in which it is true in w). 30 Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings, 101. 31 Blackburn, “Gibbard on Normative Logic,” 64. 32 Sinnott-Armstrong, “Some Problems for Gibbard’s NormExpressivism,” 301, my italics. 33 Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings, 98-9. 34 Sinnott-Armstrong, “Some Problems for Gibbard’s NormExpressivism,” 301. 35 Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings, 287. 36 Ibid., 289. 37 Ibid., 290. 38 Sinnott-Armstrong, “Some Problems for Gibbard’s NormExpressivism,” 301. 39 Ibid., 302. 40 Gibbard, “Reply to Blackburn, Carson, Hill and Railton,” 973. 41 Ibid., 974. 42 When considering purely factual statements it is only the factual component of a factual-normative world that is relevant: the system of norms effectively drops out, leaving us with a possible world. 43 Gibbard, “Reply to Blackburn, Carson, Hill and Railton,” 973. 44 Ibid., 973. 45 Wedgewood, “Non-cognitivism, Truth and Logic,” 85, my italics. 46 Wedgewood also points to this danger of pressing the analogy between factual and normative statements (ibid., 87-88). 47 Gibbard, “Reply to Blackburn, Carson, Hill and Railton,” 973. 48 Gibbard, Wise Choices, Apt Feelings, 95. 49 van Roojen, “Expressivism and Irrationality,” 335. 50 Blackburn, “Gibbard on Normative Logic,” 65. 51 Schroeder, Being For: Evaluating the Semantic Program of Expressivism, 37. 52 Ibid., 42. 53 Zangwill, “Moral Modus Ponens,” 182. 54 Blackburn, “Attitudes and Contents,” 509. 55 Schroeder, Being For: Evaluating the Semantic Program of Expressivism, 41. 56 Ibid., 41. 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Schroeder , Mark. Being For: Evaluating the Semantic Program of Expressivism . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008 . http://www-rcf.usc.edu/~maschroe/research/ schroeder%20being% 20for.pdf Used with permission from author . Sinnott-Armstrong , Walter. “ Some Problems for Gibbard's Norm-expressivism .” Philosophical Studies 69 ( 1993 ): 297 - 313 . Stalnaker , Robert C. “Possible Worlds. ” Nous 10 , no. 1 . ( 1976 ): 65 - 75 . Wedgewood , Ralph. “ Non-cognitivism, Truth and Logic .” Philosophical Studies 86 ( 1997 ): 73 - 91 . Zangwill , Nick. ( 1992 ) : “Moral Modus Ponens” , in Ratio (New Series) , Vol. 5 , No.2. pp. 177 - 193 .


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Megan Blomfield. Norm-Expressivism and the Frege-Geach Problem, EPISTEME, 2009,