Title

A Dilemma for Non-descriptive Cognitivism

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

11-20-2013

Graduate Advisor

Professor Berit Brogaard

Committee

Eric Wiland

Jon McGinnis

Abstract

It has been assumed traditionally that cognitive content and descriptive content are coextensional; all cognitive contents are descriptive and non-descriptive contents are non-cognitive. Horgan and Timmons try to break some new ground in metaethics by proposing that “in addition to descriptive beliefs, there are (moral) evaluative beliefs which are neither reducible to, nor a species of, beliefs of the former type.” They believe that moral beliefs do not describe moral facts. In what follows I will focus on what they call non-descriptive (moral) beliefs. I shall argue that their view faces a dilemma: either they should accept that moral beliefs are indeed descriptive, or their view is blocked by the Frege-Geach problem. Also, I shall argue that their framework is incapable of providing a clear notion of moral progress.

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