Expressivism, Deflationism, and Correspondence

The Journal of Moral Philosophy, Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 171, 2005

30 Pages Posted: 6 Dec 2011

See all articles by Patricia Marino

Patricia Marino

University of Waterloo - Department of Philosophy

Date Written: December 1, 2004


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.

Keywords: truth, expressivism, deflationism, correspondence theory of truth

Suggested Citation

Marino, Patricia, Expressivism, Deflationism, and Correspondence (December 1, 2004). The Journal of Moral Philosophy, Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 171, 2005, Available at SSRN:

Patricia Marino (Contact Author)

University of Waterloo - Department of Philosophy ( email )

200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1

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