The Conference

Quick Facts

Topic: Representation and Evaluation
The Question: Does moral thought and language have representational purport?
Location: Granville Island Hotel, Vancouver
Date: June 23–25, 2017
Registration Due Date: May 26, 2017

Conference Details

The point of departure for the conference is the following question: Does moral thought and language have representational purport?

Traditional cognitivists in metaethics are descriptivists. They think moral thought and language is representational, although they disagree about the sorts of facts (objective? mind-dependent? culture-dependent? natural? non-natural?) that such thought and language represents.

Traditional non-cognitivists are non-descriptivists. They think that moral thought and language does not purport to represent anything at all. Instead, having a moral thought about x is more like having a having a feeling, a desire, an emotional reaction, or some other conative attitude, and asserting a moral sentence about x is more like expressing such conative attitudes toward x than attributing a property to x.

Recent advances and creative thinking in moral psychology, linguistics and philosophy invite us to rethink the menu of non-descriptivist answers to the focal question set out above. These developments have also generated novel approaches but also challenges for non-descriptivism. Thus, the time is ripe to revisit this focal question, with an eye toward clarifying the full menu of answers, assessing the challenges such answers face, and extending the inquiry to other domains of thought and language that traffic in what we might broadly characterize as normative claims (e.g., claims about what ought to be done, is required by reason, is good, is valuable, or is choice-worthy).

The speakers will be an international group of some of the most respected and well-known figures in the discipline.


Matthew Chrisman
David Copp
James Dreier
William FitzPatrick
Joshua Gert
Anandi Hattiangadi
Terry Horgan and Mark Timmons
Max Kölbel
Laura Schroeter and Francois Schroeter