Expressivism, Deflationism, and Correspondence
University of Waterloo - Department of Philosophy
December 1, 2004
The Journal of Moral Philosophy, Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 171, 2005
On an expressivist view, ethical claims are not fact stating; instead they serve the alternative function of expressing our feelings, attitudes and values. On a deflationary view, truth is not a property with a nature to be analyzed, but merely a grammatical device to aid us in endorsing sentences. Views on the relationship between expressivism and deflationism vary widely: they are compatible; they are incompatible; they are a natural pair; they doom one another. Here I explain some of these views, extract some necessary distinctions, and put these to use for understanding expressivism. I argue that contrary to the opinions of some, deflationism doesn't help with problems of objectivity, knowledge and reasoning in ethics. I suggest alternative expressivist treatments of these problems, and show how expressivism as a metaethical view must have consequences for our ethical lives and beliefs. In particular it must affect the way we deal with ethical consistency — when norms or beliefs conflict — and ethical incompleteness — when ethical questions have no right answer.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 30
Keywords: truth, expressivism, deflationism, correspondence theory of truth
Date posted: December 6, 2011