Can non-cognitivism account for ethical explanation?
MetadataShow full item record
In this report I argue that a popular account of the nature of ethical thought and talk -- non-cognitivism -- cannot make sense of our attempts to explain why some things are right or wrong, good or bad, just or unjust. After introducing the process by which we attempt to explain these sorts of ethical features (a process I call ethical explanation), I consider how we might test whether non-cognitivism can account for this process. We can test whether non-cognitivism can account for ethical explanation, I argue, by testing whether non-cognitivism can account for the meanings of ethical explanatory sentences, the sentences we use to express explanatory thoughts in ethics. After considering how non-cognitivism might account for ethical explanatory sentences (and so the thoughts these sentences express), I develop a series of problem cases on which, I argue, no plausible non-cognitivist account of these meanings of these sentences is possible. Because non-cognitivism cannot account for the meanings of ethical explanatory sentences, I conclude, non-cognitivism cannot account for ethical explanation.