Chapter

A Puzzle for Constructivism and How to Solve It<sup>1</sup>

Dale Dorsey

in Constructivism in Practical Philosophy

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199609833
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191741913 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199609833.003.0006
A Puzzle for Constructivism and How to Solve               It1

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Dorsey is interested in constructivist views such as Sharon Street's which understand the truth conditions of normative judgements in terms of their withstanding scrutiny from the standpoint of other normative judgments. But it would be circular and unilluminating to understand the meaning of normative judgements in the way. To resolve the difficulty, Dorsey proposes we “break the link between the meaning of normative judgements and their truth conditions”. In the normative domain, though not across the board, truth should be understood in terms of coherence. That leaves us free to give an account of the meaning of normative judgements is terms of their ascription to actions etc. of normative properties, right, rational, etc. But constructivists typically take themselves to be opposed to normative realism, and thus committed to denying that normative properties exist, so an error theory seems unavoidable. Not so, according to Dorsey, precisely because we have cut meaning lose from truth-conditions. Normative judgements may refer to normative properties and normative properties may not exist but that doesn't suffice to make normative judgements false. What makes a normative judgement false is rather a failure of coherence. So we combine a realist semantics for normative judgements with an anti-realist understanding of their truth-conditions.

Keywords: constructivism; normativity; semantics; truth; coherence; anti-realism

Chapter.  9847 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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