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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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Categorical and Final

Categorical and Final

(p.176) 7 Categorical and Final
Confusion of Tongues

Stephen Finlay

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines two different challenges posed by moral absolutists to relational semantics for normative language: (1) the character of moral claims as ‘categorical imperatives’, and (2) claims about intrinsic or final value. First, categoricity is analyzed as a pragmatic phenomenon involving the illocutionary force of prescription, and it is argued that the end-relational theory explains this as a rhetorical product of the pragmatic presupposition involved in speaking as if one’s preferred ends are shared, identified as moralism. Other kinds and interpretations of categoricity are considered and argued to pose no problem. Topics discussed include error theory, the nature of morality, and amoralism. Second, linguistic evidence leads to an analysis of claims about final value as reflexive uses of end-relational language. Topics discussed include moral epistemology, the problem of moral fetishism, error theory, and the projective fallacy.

Keywords:   morality, categorical imperatives, final value, pragmatic presupposition, absolutism, moralism, moral fetishism, prescription, moral epistemology, projective fallacy

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