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Metaethics after Moore$
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Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199269914

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199269914.001.0001

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Opening Questions, Following Rules

Opening Questions, Following Rules

(p.169) 8 Opening Questions, Following Rules *
Metaethics after Moore

Paul Bloomfield

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by noting that the 20th century beneficiary of the open question argument has been (rather ironically) the class of non-realist views, including non-cognitivism and expressivism. It contends that Moore did not properly diagnose the openness of the relevant questions about goodness; it is not simplicity versus complexity, and it is not indefinability versus definability. Rather, it is the normativity involved in moral judgments and concepts that keeps Moorean questions open and blocks definitions of ‘good’; the same sort of normativity that keeps questions open in relation to concepts like ‘plus’, ‘mass’, and ‘triangle’. The issue of normativity in semantics, epistemology, and ethics is basically the same. ‘How can features of the world establish conditions under which it makes sense for us to think that there are ways we ought to conduct ourselves (with regard to our actions, our speech, or our beliefs) and other ways which ought not to be followed?’ A clear implication of this line of argument is that those working in metaethics have often laboured under the mistaken assumption that moral terms like ‘good’ are especially problematic.

Keywords:   open question argument, non-realism, G.E. Moore, simplicity, definability, normativity

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