Thickness and Evaluation

In: Journal of Moral Philosophy
Author: Matti Eklund1
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  • 1 Uppsala University

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This is a review essay devoted to Pekka Väyrynen’s The Rude, the Lewd and the Nasty. Väyrynen’s book, concerned with thick terms and thick concepts, argues for a pragmatic view on the evaluativeness associated with these terms and concepts. The essay raises a number of critical questions regarding what Väyrynen’s arguments for his view actually show. It deals with, for example, thick properties, the fact-value distinction, what it is for terms and concepts to be (semantically) evaluative, and whether Väyrynen’s arguments generalize to thin evaluative concepts.

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     For example, Roberts (2011) characterizes Blackburn’s (1992) view as follows: “Blackburn holds that there are no thick concepts, only loaded terms, that is, that the evaluative aspect of a so-called thick term is no part of the content of the concept expressed by that term” (p. 495fn14). If instead one uses “thick” Väyrynen’s way, one should say that Blackburn does not deny that there are thick concepts but understands their evaluativeness pragmatically.

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     See e.g. Dancy (1993), McNaughton and Rawling (2000) Zangwill (2013), and Alfano and Loeb (2014).

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     See Eklund (2013).

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    Roberts (2015) also uses the antimoralist to cast doubt on Väyrynen’s argument from projection behavior.

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     See Brink (1989).

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