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Relativism and the expressivist bifurcation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2020

Salas Javier González de Prado*
Departamento de Lingüstica, Lenguas Modernas, Lógica y Filosofía de la Ciencia, Teoría de la Literatura y Literatura comparada, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain


Traditional expressivists want to preserve a contrast between the representational use of declarative sentences in descriptive domains and the non-representational use of declarative sentences in other areas of discourse (in particular, normative speech). However, expressivists have good reasons to endorse minimalism about representational notions, and minimalism seems to threaten the existence of such a bifurcation. Thus, there are pressures for expressivists to become global anti-representationalists. In this paper I discuss how to reconstruct in non-representationalist terms the sort of bifurcation traditional expressivists were after. My proposal is that the relevant bifurcation can be articulated by appeal to the contrast between relativistic and non-relativistic assertoric practices. I argue that this contrast, which can be specified without appeal to representational notions, captures the core intuitions behind the expressivist bifurcation (in particular, it captures the anti-realist intuitions motivating many expressivist proposals).

Copyright © Canadian Journal of Philosophy 2018

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