Moral realists maintain that morality has a distinctive subject matter. Specifically, realists maintain that moral discourse is representational, that moral sentences express moral propositions - propositions that attribute moral properties to things. Noncognitivists, in contrast, maintain that the realist imagery associated with morality is a fiction, a reification of our noncognitive attitudes. The thought that there is a distinctively moral subject matter is regarded as somethingto be debunked by philosophical reflection on the way moral discourse mediates and makes public our noncognitive attitudes. The realist fiction might be understood as a philosophical misconception of a discourse that is not fundamentally representational but whose intent is rather practical.There is, however, another way to understand the realist fiction. Perhaps the subject matter of morality is a fiction that stands in no need of debunking, but is rather the means by which our attitudes are conveyed. Perhaps moral sentences express moral propositions, just as the realist maintains, but in accepting a moral sentence competent speakers do not believe the moral proposition expressed but rather adopt the relevant non-cognitive attitudes. Noncognitivism, in its primary sense, is aclaim about moral acceptance: the acceptance of a moral sentence is not moral belief but is some other attitude. Standardly, non-cognitivism has been linked to non-factualism - the claim that the content of a moral sentence does not consist in its expressing a moral proposition. Indeed, the terms'noncognitivism' and 'nonfactualism' have been used interchangeably. But this misses an important possibility, since moral content may be representational but the acceptance of moral sentences might not be belief in the moral proposition expressed. This possibility constitutes a novel form of noncognitivism, moral fictionalism. Whereas nonfactualists seek to debunk the realist fiction of a moral subject matter, the moral fictionalist claims that that fiction stands in no need of debunking butis the means by which the noncognitive attitudes involved in moral acceptance are conveyed by moral utterance. Moral fictionalism is noncognitivism without a non-representational semantics.
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acceptance and utterance accepting a moral action argument assertion aVairs Bernice’s Bloomsbury group cognitive psychology cognitivism cognitivist competent speaker accepts constructive empiricism conveyed conXict dilemma directed attention sense disagreement about reasons diVerent diYculty embedded occurrences emotivism epistemic error theory eVect express propositions expressivism expressivist Gibbard’s given circumstance hermeneutic higher-order attitudes incompleteness theorem inquire further instantiates involved in moral justiWed in accepting MacIntyre mathematical moral acceptance moral belief moral claims moral commitments moral content moral discourse moral facts moral practice moral predicates moral proposition expressed moral realism moral reasons moral relativism moral utterance moral Wctionalism noncognitive attitudes noncognitivism noncognitivist noncomplacency nonfactualism nonfactualist nonmoral reasons nonrepresentational normative appearance normative predicate normative sentences norms governing otherwise rational person plausible primitive expressivist propositions that represent quasi-assertion rationally permissible real content realist reason for accepting reject relevant aVect renewed moral inquiry representational sentences express SpeciWcally supervenience tence theoretical uttered moral sentence uttering a moral Wctionalist