Action-Guiding Content

  • Michael P. Wolf
  • Jeremy Randel Koons


In this chapter, we will offer an expressivist account of declarative sentences that appear in normative discourse. “Normative discourse,” in the present sense may stretch to include large numbers of linguistic forms, and we will not attempt to catalog and explain them all. Instead, we will offer expressivist characterizations of those employed in overt normative claims and suggest some ways in which they may be related to others. The common core of all the different parts of this account will be a concern for our practical interests and projections of how the adoption of various commitments and entitlements would serve those interests going forward. This pragmatist move will allow us to preserve a very robust account of normative discourse without the need to posit a new range of objects or phenomena in the world that our discourse would then represent. There will be no placement problem for normative discourse because there will be nothing to place. Our account will involve a proposal for a considerable extension of the resources for analyzing a language. In addition to many elements familiar from other accounts, we articulate different types of action-guiding character that pieces of normative discourse can have, which we will call here. In some ways, these will remind speakers of accounts of speech acts, but the crucial difference is that we are suggesting these modes are built into the very content of these sentences and expressions, not added afterward by our performance with them. We are suggesting that it is not normative discourse that is somehow impoverished, but rather the set of theoretical tools by which we have attempted to understand it.


Singular Term Deontic Logic Reflective Equilibrium Normative Claim Declarative Sentence 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael P. Wolf
    • 1
  • Jeremy Randel Koons
    • 2
  1. 1.Washington, PAUSA
  2. 2.DohaQatar

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