Subject naturalism and normativity: essays in expressivism



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Normativity has been notoriously hard to place in our scientific image of the world. Subject naturalism is a version of philosophical naturalism that starts with what science tells us about ourselves as natural creatures in trying to explain language. As long as we can make sense of how our discourse and practices could arise in a natural world, subject naturalism does not require that we regard such discourse as trying to represent the world. This project takes metaethical expressivism to be the subject naturalist approach to explaining normativity. The core thesis of my project is that metaethical expressivists can and should explain moral language without appealing to noncognitive mental states (e.g., evaluative attitudes) by becoming discourse-first expressivists. First, I present theoretical motivations for becoming discourse-first expressivists. Second, I present a novel account of the meaning of slurs available to discourse-first expressivists to further motivate the view. Finally, I sketch an outline of what a discourse-first expressivism might look like.

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Metaethics, Subject Naturalism, Expressivism