Representation and Evaluation

June 23, 2017 - June 25, 2017
Granville Island Hotel

1253 Johnston Street
Vancouver V6H 3R9


Matthew Chrisman
University of Edinburgh
David Copp
University of California, Davis
James Dreier
Brown University
William FitzPatrick
University of Rochester
Joshua Gert
College of William and Mary
Anandi Hattiangadi
Stockholm University
Terry Horgan
University of Arizona
Universitat de Barcelona
Laura Schroeter
University of Melbourne
Francois Schroeter
University of Melbourne
Mark Timmons
University of Arizona


Matt Bedke
University of British Columbia
McMaster University

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

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May 26, 2017, 7:45pm PST

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