SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Wittgenstein, Truth Deflationism and Meta-Ethics
(History of Philosophy, )

According to a widespread interpretation (see e.g., Baker and Hacker 1980; Kripke 1982; Williams 2004; Blackburn 2010; Horwich 2016) Wittgenstein adopted a deflationary theory of truth (or truth deflationism) in his later work due to his invocation of the equivalence schema ______ in PI ____136 (see LFM 68, 188; PG, 79; RFM Appendix I ____5, Appendix III ____6 for other examples). Brandhorst has adduced further textual evidence in favor of this widespread view by bringing to our attention Wittgenstein's use of the equivalence schema in his conversations about ethics with Rush Rhees. Brandhorst has sought to develop a link between Wittgenstein's later moral philosophy and truth deflationism in order to shed some light on the meta-ethical implications of his work. Specifically, he argues that Wittgenstein's embrace of truth deflationism offers a novel conception of moral truths which avoids the objectivist commitments of moral realism. The aim of this paper is to critically examine Brandhorst's deflationists interpretation of Wittgenstein's later moral philosophy.



First, it argues that Wittgenstein, in his conversations with Rhees merely presents us with grammatical platitudes about the meaning of ``true'' and ``false'', not a deflationist theory of truth. Specifically, he provides an expressivist conception of truth according to which the words ``is true'' and ``is false'' are used to express non-cognitive attitudes, e.g., confidence, approval/disapproval or agreement/disagreement, about a moral judgment. Second, it resorts to Wittgenstein's later views on truth-aptness and the grammar of moral judgments to argue that moral judgments are not apt for truth and falsity and thus not suitable for substitution into an equivalence schema. Despite their declarative/indicative form, Wittgenstein (LA: Part I ________5-7; MWL: 318-333; AWL: ____31-32; Wittgenstein, Rhees & Citron 2015: 30) suggests that moral judgments are primarily used to expresses certain attitudes, sentiments and feelings which replace and extend natural reactions of approval and disapproval. Thus, moral sentences are used expressively, not to make truth-apt assertions about the world. As Wittgenstein puts it: ``An ethical proposition is a personal act. Not a statement of fact'' (PPO: 85).


Chair: Karol Lenart
Time: 14:00-14:30, 11 September 2021 (Saturday)
Location: SR 1.007
Remark: (Online Talk)

Jordi Fairhurst 
(Universitat de les Illes Balears, Spain)

Jordi Fairhurst is a PhD student at the Universidad de las Islas Baleares (UIB) with a FPU grant from the MECD del Gobierno de Españna. His thesis focuses on Wittgenstein's moral philosophy and meta-ethics. His research interests also encompass philosophy of language, ethics, epistemology and philosophy of science. He has published papers in journals such as Journal of the American Philosophical Association, Philosophia, Journal for General Philosophy of Science, Ethical Perspectives and Teorema.

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