Expressivism and Constructivism<sup>1</sup>

James Lenman

in Constructivism in Practical Philosophy

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199609833
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191741913 | DOI:
Expressivism and Constructivism1

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Lenman's chapter, after some taxonomical preliminaries, turns to a critical examination of Sharon Street's views. He notes the obvious affinity with expressivism in her strategy for understanding normative language by seeking to make sense of facts about reasons in terms of facts about what we judge to be reasons. He goes on to argue that shifting her view in the direction of expressivism would promise to avoid various difficulties that beset it. He then considers Nadeem Hussain and Nishi Shah's objection to Christine Korsgaard's constructivism that it fails to offer a distinctive position in metaethics. Certainly it is true, he notes, that Korsgaard offers little illumination of normative semantics. However an expressivist understanding of the latter might fruitfully be married to constructivist ideas in ways that might promise to supply the deficiencies of both views. Finally Lenman proposes an account of moral reasons. He offers a constructivist and contractualist understanding of the justification of moral judgements, or, more precisely of what such justification might amount to given the extreme metaphysical sparseness of the expressivism he favours. Such an understanding, he argues, can be combined with an expressivist understanding of the semantics of such judgements to shed light on the role and status of intuitions in moral argument.

Keywords: constructivism; expressivism; Sharon Street; normativity; coherence; morality

Chapter.  6542 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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