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Northern European Journal of Philosophy

Editor-in-Chief: Addis, Mark / Hämäläinen, Nora / Pedersen, Esther Oluffa / Westphal, Kenneth R.

Managing Editor: Pedersen, Esther Oluffa

Together with Niknam, Arman Teymouri

CiteScore 2017: 0.07

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2017: 0.107
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.274

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Volume 8, Issue 2


Disentangling The Thick Concept Argument

Olle Blomberg
Published Online: 2010-03-16 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/SATS.2007.63


Critics argue that non-cognitivism cannot adequately account for the existence and nature of some thick moral concepts. They use the existence of thick concepts as a lever in an argument against non-cognitivism, here called the Thick Concept Argument (TCA). While TCA is frequently invoked, it is unfortunately rarely articulated. In this paper, TCA is first reconstructed on the basis of John McDowell's formulation of the argument (from Non-Cognitivism and Rule-Following, Routledge, 1981), and then evaluated in the light of several possible non-cognitivist responses. In general, TCA assumes too much about what a non-cognitivist is (or must be) committed to. There are several non-cognitivist theories, and only some fit the view attacked by TCA. Furthermore, TCA rests on a contestable intuition about a thought experiment, here called the External Standpoint Experiment (ESE). It is concluded that TCA is remarkably weak, given how frequently the argument is invoked.

Keywords:: thick concepts; moral concepts; non-cognitivism; disentangling; John McDowell; Simon Blackburn

About the article

Published Online: 2010-03-16

Published in Print: 2007-11-01

Citation Information: SATS, Volume 8, Issue 2, Pages 63–78, ISSN (Online) 1869-7577, ISSN (Print) 1600-1974, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/SATS.2007.63.

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