XIV—Moral Non-Cognitivism and the Grammar of Morality


  • Meeting of the Aristotelian Society held at Senate House, University of London, on 1 June 2009 at 4:15 pm.


This paper investigates the linguistic basis for moral non-cognitivism, the view that sentences containing moral predicates do not have truth conditions. It offers a new argument against this view by pointing out that the view is incompatible with our best empirical theories about the grammatical encoding of illocutionary force potentials. Given that my arguments are based on very general assumptions about the relations between the grammar of natural languages and a sentence's illocutionary function, my arguments are broader in scope than the familiar semantic objections to non-cognitivism relating to the so-called Frege-Geach problem: even if a solution to the Frege-Geach problem has been found, my arguments still stand.