Value ascriptions: rethinking cognitivism
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This paper focuses on value as ascribed to what can be desired, enjoyed, cherished, admired, loved, and so on: value that putatively serves as ground for evaluating such attitudes and for justifying conduct. The main question of the paper is whether such value ascriptions are property ascriptions as traditional cognitivism claims. The paper makes the case that although the linguistic evidence favors traditional cognitivism over non-cognitivism about evaluative language, the main tenet of cognitivism is best restated as the thesis that evaluative terms are linguistically encoded classificatory devices. This opens up the theoretical possibility, for even inflationists about properties, to embrace cognitivism without inviting any metaphysical worries about the properties ascribed in evaluative language.
KeywordsValue ascriptions Evaluative predicates Property ascriptions Cognitivism Classification Classificatory device
Drafts of this paper were presented at the Oberlin Colloquium in Philosophy, May 2017, at the GRIN workshop on normativity at the University of Montreal, October 2017, and in my graduate seminar at Tufts University, September 2018. I thank all the participants in the 2017 Oberlin Colloquium, my 2017 GRIN workshop, and my 2018 graduate seminar for helpful feedback, not the least my commentator at Oberlin, Tristram McPherson, who also generously sent written comments. I am also grateful to Jody Azzouni for feedback on an early draft.