“Expressivism and the Reliability Challenge” by Camil Golub, Department of Philosophy, New York University
DATE: Thursday, January 28
Expressivism helps address the reliability challenge to normative objectivism, in a way that has been overlooked. In dealing with epistemological issues, expressivists typically invoke semantic theses about the desire-like mental states expressed by normative claims, or attempt to defend our reliability with first-order normative arguments. However, the attitudinal semantics of expressivism is epistemologically idle, while a normative defense of our reliability does not answer the demand to explain why we are reliable. In the face of this explanatory challenge, it is the negative functional thesis of expressivism that plays a key role: normative discourse does not have the function of tracking normative facts, or any other kind of facts, and this is why we should not demand a robust explanation of our reliable access to objective normative facts, of the sort available in regions of discourse that have a tracking function.