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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.246) 9 Conclusion
Confusion of Tongues

Stephen Finlay

Oxford University Press

The commitments and implications of the end-relational theory are examined for linguistics, metaphysics, psychology, epistemology, ethics, and metaethics. While normative language often refers to genuine facts, the normativity of these facts is relative to perspectives of desire. This supports the priority of desire over normativity, but only if no other normative concepts, like importance, are correctly analyzed in absolutist ways, and only if desire itself doesn’t require a normative analysis. Whereas the theory is neutral about the content of ethical theory, it implies that moral claims express subjective perspectives and therefore that fundamental moral principles aren’t legitimate objects of scientific inquiry. Finally, it is argued that in view of the evidence, error is more plausibly ascribed to absolutist metaethical beliefs than to the alternatives.

Keywords:   linguistics, metaphysics, psychology, epistemology, ethics, metaethics, error, importance, desire

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