Towards an improved quasi-realism
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In my dissertation, “Towards an Improved Qasi-Realism,” I lay out, evaluate, and then improve upon existing varieties of quasi-realist expressivism in metaethics, in particular with regards to solving the problem of embedding. I outline two distinctions to classify quasi-realist theories: between fast-track and slow-track approaches, and between univocal and mimicking approaches. I argue that a successful theory will use the mimicking approach and a structure that combines fast-track and slow-track elements-- that is, it will work to justify the use of propositional form in expressing atitudes using concerns related to the wider institution that we identify as moral practice. Afer historical discussion of A. J. Ayer, I. A. Richards, and C. L. Stevenson, in which I atempt to bring out overlooked nuances of how the embedding problem relates to their theories, I turn my atention to Simon Blackburn’s notion of “propositional reflection”-- the idea that a structure of our atitudes can ground an expressivist’s explanation of why we use apparent propositions to express atitudes. I argue that none of Blackburn’s candidates for the relation is adequate. Theories that separate what is expressed from what is reflected (as in Allan Gibbard’s Thinking How to Live view) do beter, and I contribute a suggestion of my own according to which a commitment is a state of standing ready to take action, but, ultimately, the right view is one that adopts a pluralistic view of the atitudinal dynamics that underlie our adoption of propositional form for the expressions of atitudes that constitute moral language. Finally, I consider the quasi-realist maneuver itself, the assimilation of paradigmatically realist metaethical claims by the expressivist via minimalist or expressivist analyses of those claims. I determine that the expressivist form of quasirealism is more promising than the minimalist, and that the quasi-realist can minimalize the burden he carries from denying intuitively plausible realist claims while at the same time keeping quasi-realist expressivism clearly distinct from realism. The harsher consequences of adopting a mimicking theory can be rendered harmless by quasi-realism, resulting in the most plausible form of expressivist theory.