Philosophy 290-4

Spring 2011

Number Title Instructor Days/time Room
290-4 Graduate Seminar: Expressivism and Relativism MacFarlane Tu 6-8 234 Moses

My judgments that a certain dish is tasty and that it is likely to rain tomorrow do not seem to be judgments about an objective domain of reality, independent of my own tastes and information. Yet they seem to be more than mere reports of my own tastes and information; for example, they can serve as loci of interpersonal disagreements. So how should we understand them? Both expressivism and relativism advertise themselves as ways of steering between the Scylla of excessive subjectivism and the Charybdis of excessive objectivism. In this seminar we will look at both approaches, with a focus on expressivism. We will be particularly concerned with understanding just how the two approaches differ, when both are fully developed, and how each differs from the subjectivist and objectivist views they are seeking to avoid. For concreteness and to ease comparison, we will focus on claims of taste and likelihood, even though much of the discussion concerns normative judgment. Readings will be drawn from A. J. Ayer, C. L. Stevenson, Peter Geach, Simon Blackburn, Allan Gibbard, Huw Price, Mark Schroeder, Frank Jackson, Jamie Dreier, Gideon Rosen, and others (including some unpublished work of my own).