Stockholm-Uppsala joint seminar in theoretical philosophy, spring 2021

Speaker: Marvin Backes, Uppsala, Title: Moderate Moral Intuitionism and Arguments From Reliability
Commentator: Mikael Janvid, Stockholm

11:15:11:30 Break

Speaker: Anders Schoubye, Stockholm. Title: But if…
Commentator: Andreas Stokke, Uppsala

Marvin BackesModerate Moral Intuitionism and Arguments From Reliability

According to realist views of morality, there exists a domain of distinctly moral facts which determine whether some act (or belief) is morally permissible or impermissible, right or wrong. But how do we come to know what these facts are? Offering a convincing answer to this question is one of the central challenges for moral realists. Recent years have seen the rise of a new family of views that set out to answer this question; viz. moderate moral intuitionism. This paper argues that while moderate moral intuitionism may be able to avoid some of the pitfalls of its earlier predecessors, it too ultimately fails to provide realists with a plausible moral epistemology. In particular, I consider the two leading versions of moderate moral intuitionism -modern self-evidence views and intellectual seemings views – and show that neither of them have the resources to explain why we can be confident that our moral intuitions are reliable. I distinguish between two different types of Arguments from Reliability, outline the strongest versions of the respective objections, and consider but ultimately reject different ways in which moderate moral intuitionists might respond to them. Along the way I also show why it is unlikely that moral intuitionists will be able to avoid these problems in the future. Hence, the paper concludes that moral intuitionism – even its new and more moderate iterations – cannot solve the realists’ epistemic problems.


Anders Schoubye: But if…


The standard view about the meaning of ‘but’ is that it shares its literal meaning with ‘and’, but in addition conveys some kind of “contrastive" content in the form of a conventional implicature. This view, which I think it’s safe to say is orthodoxy, comes from Grice. However, Grice’s analysis suffers from certain fairly clear problems. One of them is that it is simply incapable of capturing alternative uses of ‘but’ where very different types of contrasts are conveyed. In this talk, my starting point will be a more recent analysis of ‘but’, namely Toosarvandani (2014). Toosarvandani’s main aim is to provide a single and uniform analysis of ‘but’ that captures not only the standard cases discussed by Grice and others, but also a variety of the aforementioned (and much less discussed) uses. Toosarvandani’s analysis has several advantages over the Gricean analysis, but nevertheless I will (a) argue that there are further data points that Toosarvandani’s analysis is incapable of capturing, (b) show that in certain cases Toosarvandani’s analysis makes the wrong predictions, and (c) present one novel and somewhat puzzling data point that seems to suggest that the “contrast” conveyed by ‘but’ in certain cases has a very direct semantic effect — an effect that cannot easily be captured in terms of conventional implicatures or semantic presuppositions.

References: Toosarvandani, Maziar 2014. ‘Contrast and the structure of discourse’. Semantics and Pragmatics, 7, 4: 1–57.