Sensibility Theory and Projectivism

Justin D'Arms and Daniel Jacobson

Edited by David Copp

in The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780195147797
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199785841 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Sensibility Theory and Projectivism

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This chapter explores the debate between contemporary projectivists or expressivists (such as Simon Blackburn and Allan Gibbard), and the advocates of sensibility theory (most notably John McDowell and David Wiggins). Both positions are best viewed as forms of sentimentalism — the theory that evaluative concepts must be explicated by appeal to the sentiments. It argues that the sophisticated interpretation of such notions as “true” and “objective” that are offered by defenders of these competing views ultimately undermines the significance of their meta-ethical disputes over “cognitivism” and “realism” about value. Their fundamental disagreement lies in moral psychology; it concerns how best to understand the emotions to which sentimentalist theories must appeal.

Keywords: Blackburn; emotion; Gibbard; McDowell; moral psychology; projectivism; secondary qualities; sentiment; sentimentalism; value

Chapter.  15810 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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