Philosophy Seminar: Will Gamester (Leeds)

'It's expressivism, but with more confidence (and less negative thinking)'

Veggie, the vegetarian, thinks that eating meat is morally wrong.  According to an expressivist, this normative judgement is best construed, not as a representational state with negative normative content, but as a negatively-valenced desire-like state with non-normative content.  This comes with attractive explanatory pay-offs.  But it leaves most of our normative psychology unexplained. 

It does not tell us:

(1) what it is to think that something is not wrong;

(2) what it is to think that something is wrong to a greater or lesser degree;

(3) what it is to be more or less confident that something is wrong;

(4) what it is to be in any other kind of normative mental state, like a hope, fear, or desire; 

(5) what it is to have logically complex normative thoughts. 

This paper is part of a broader project to systematically expand expressivist normative psychology.  Here, I focus on the first three: the Negation, Import, and Confidence Challenges.  By highlighting neglected aspects of these challenges and the relations between them, I argue that an adequate solution to the Confidence Challenge should also be sufficient to meet the Negation Challenge; and, therefore, that the mental states expressivists postulate to explain negative normative thoughts are explanatorily redundant. 

I demonstrate this by articulating a Blackburn-inspired approach to the Confidence Challenge and explaining how it meets the challenges in question.