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Expressivism, question substitution and evolutionary debunking

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Expressivism is a blossoming meta-semantic framework sometimes relying on what Carter and Chrisman call “the core expressivist maneuver.” That is, instead of asking about the nature of a certain kind of value, we should be asking about the nature of the value judgment in question. According to expressivists, this question substitution opens theoretical space for the elegant, economical, and explanatorily powerful expressivist treatment of the relevant domain. I argue, however, that experimental work in cognitive psychology can shed light on how the core expressivist maneuver operates at the cognitive level and that this: (a) raises worries about the aptness of the expressivist question substitution and (b) supports an evolutionary debunking argument against expressivism. Since evolutionary debunking arguments are usually run in favor of expressivism, this creates an obvious puzzle for expressivists. I wrap up by briefly responding to the objection that the debunking argument against expressivism overgeneralizes and, therefore, should be rejected.
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Keywords: Evolutionary debunking arguments; expressivism; question substitution

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Classics and Philosophy, University of Cyprus, Nicosia, Cyprus

Publication date: 17 November 2017

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