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Volume 51 • Number 2

April 2014



Expressivism and Humans as Cognitive Superbeings

by Abraham Graber

It would not be a stretch to say that expressivism has become the dominant meta-ethical account. As Mark Schroeder puts it: “Blackburn and Gibbard’s efforts [to revitalize expressivism] have gone so far toward making expressivism a respectable view that expressivism is now being widely applied across the ‘core areas’ of philosophy” (Schroeder 2008a, p. 7). The popularity of expressivism makes it a prime target for evangelical moral realists such as myself. The embedding problem, also known as the Frege-Geach problem, challenges the non-cognitivist to make sense of the meaning of moral predicates embedded in logically complex sentences. Schroeder has argued that the most promising solution to the embedding problem requires that the expressivist take moral utterances to express second-order mental states. Moral predicates can be multiply embedded within other moral predicates. The expressivist who accepts Schroeder’s being for approach to moral semantics is committed to the empirically implausible claim that humans are cognitive superbeings, capable of having eighth-order mental states.

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ISSN: 2152-1123