It is fairly standard in the contemporary literature to distinguish between moral cognitivism and moral realism. The former position takes a stand only on the semantics of moral language and the nature of the mental activity crucially involved in moral evaluation, while the latter position also takes on certain metaphysical (and possibly epistemological) commitments. Cognitivism holds that moral terms function semantically as predicate expressions: that is, their semantic values are properties. Corresponding to them are genuine moral concepts employed for forming moral beliefs and judgments that truly or falsely represent the object of evaluation as having the designated properties. The contrasting view is noncognitivism which maintains that moral terms, though having the syntactic distribution of predicate expressions, semantically function as mood indicators: that is, they signal a grammatical mood typically used for expressing certain affective or conative attitudes toward the object of evaluation under a nonmoral mode of presentation. Moral judgments are identified with or regarded as manifestations of such attitudes and are consequently not subject to semantic evaluation in terms of truth and falsity. The disagreement between cognitivists and noncognitivists thus centers on how it is best to interpret moral language and thought. It is not a metaphysical disagreement.
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