Confusion of Tongues : A Theory of Normative Language

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Finlay, Stephen. (2014). Confusion of Tongues : A Theory of Normative Language Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199347490.001.0001
AuthorsFinlay, Stephen
Abstract

Can normative words like ‘good’, ‘ought’, and ‘reason’ be defined in entirely non-normative terms? This book argues that they can, advancing an end-relational theory of the meaning of this language as providing the best explanation of the many different ways it is ordinarily used. Whereas it is widely maintained that relational theories cannot account for the special features of moral and deliberative uses of these words, this book argues that the end-relational theory accommodates these features systematically on the basis of a single fundamental principle of conversational pragmatics. These challenges comprise the central problems of metaethics, including the connection between normative judgment and motivation, the categorical character of morality, the nature of intrinsic value, and the possibility of normative disagreement. This linguistic analysis has far-reaching implications for the metaphysics, epistemology, and psychology of morality, as well as for the nature and possibility of normative ethical theory. Most significantly it supplies a nuanced answer to the ancient Euthyphro Question of whether things are desired because they are judged to be good, or vice versa. Normative speech and thought may ultimately be just a manifestation of our nature as intelligent animals motivated by contingent desires for various conflicting ends.

Keywordsnormativity; morality; normative language; meaning; pragmatics; context; metaethics; end-relational
ISBN 9780199347490
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199347490.001.0001
Web address (URL)https://academic.oup.com/book/1841
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range1
280
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Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Print16 Apr 2014
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Deposited14 May 2024
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© Oxford University Press 2014

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, by license, or under terms agreed with the appropriate reproduction rights organization. Inquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above.

Year01 Jan 2014
PublisherOxford University Press
Place of publicationOxford
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