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The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory$
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David Copp

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195147797

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0195147790.001.0001

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Sensibility Theory and Projectivism

Sensibility Theory and Projectivism

The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory

Justin D'Arms (Contributor Webpage)

Daniel Jacobson (Contributor Webpage)

, David Copp
Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the debate between contemporary projectivists or expressivists (such as Simon Blackburn and Allan Gibbard), and the advocates of sensibility theory (most notably John McDowell and David Wiggins). Both positions are best viewed as forms of sentimentalism — the theory that evaluative concepts must be explicated by appeal to the sentiments. It argues that the sophisticated interpretation of such notions as “true” and “objective” that are offered by defenders of these competing views ultimately undermines the significance of their meta-ethical disputes over “cognitivism” and “realism” about value. Their fundamental disagreement lies in moral psychology; it concerns how best to understand the emotions to which sentimentalist theories must appeal.

Keywords:   Blackburn, emotion, Gibbard, McDowell, moral psychology, projectivism, secondary qualities, sentiment, sentimentalism, value

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