The Fall 2014 Philosophy Colloquium Series presents Janice Dowell, Syracuse University. The title of Professor Dowell's talk is "The Metaethical Insignificance Of Moral Twin Earth." (Abstract below.)
Friday, Oct 31, 3-5pm, Social Sciences 224 (1145 E South Campus Drive).
One prominent type of objection to a descriptivist semantics for moral terms relies on the assumption that our intuitions about the possibility of disagreement with rival and hypothetical speech communities, or about the intertranslatability of our terms with theirs, are probative for semantic theorizing about such terms. The objections based upon consideration of Smith’s “rival speech community”, Horgan’s and Timmons’ Moral Twin Earth, and Hare’s missionary are all of this type. The diverse, existing responses to these thought experiments share this assumption. Here, in contrast, I provide principled grounds for its rejection. As a consequence, our intuitions in these cases should be accorded no probative value either against pure Descriptivist semantic theories of moral terms or in favor of any semantic theory designed to accommodate them.