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Confusion of TonguesA Theory of Normative Language$
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Stephen Finlay

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199347490

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199347490.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
Confusion of Tongues

Stephen Finlay

Oxford University Press

This chapter introduces the myth of the Tower of Babel as providing allegories for two central themes of the book: that both moral and metaethical disagreements in different ways involve a ‘confusion of tongues’. The Euthyphro Question marks a fundamental controversy in metaethics: is normativity prior to desire, or vice versa? Metaethical theories must balance the objectivity of morality against its practicality. An analytic method of semantic and conceptual analysis is proposed, and a series of challenges surveyed: from primitivism, expressivism, synthetic naturalism, and revisionism. G. E. Moore’s ‘Open Question’ argument is criticized, and a strategy outlined of providing the simplest and most conservative explanation of the data.

Keywords:   metaethics, objectivity, desire, semantic analysis, conceptual analysis, Moore, moral disagreement, normativity, analytic method

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