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Quasi-Realism

Books on Quasi-Realism

Quasi-realism is the meta-ethical view claiming that ethical sentences do not express propositions. Ethical sentences project emotional attitudes as though they were real properties. Quasi-realism a form of non-cognitivism or expressivism.

Quasi-realism stands in opposition to other forms of non-cognitivism such as emotivism and universal prescriptivism, as well as to all forms of cognitivism, including both moral realism and ethical subjectivism.

Aesthetic judgements are autonomous, as many other judgements are not: for the latter, but not the former, it is sometimes justifiable to change one's mind simply because several others share a different opinion.

Why is this? One answer is that claims about beauty are not assertions at all, but expressions of aesthetic response. However, to cover more than just some of the explananda, this expressivism needs combining with some analogue of cognitive command, i.e. the idea that disagreements over beuaty can occur, and when they do it is a priori that one side has infringed the norms governing aesthetic discourse.

This combination can be achieved by reading Kant's aesthetic theory in expressivist terms. The resulting view is a form of quasi-realism about beauty. This conclusion generalises to quasi-realism about other matters. - Kant, Quasi-Realism, and the Autonomy of Aesthetic Judgement - Hopkins, Robert, European Journal of Philosophy, Vol 9, Num 2, August 2001

QUASI-REALISM, ACQUAINTANCE, AND THE NORMATIVE CLAIMS OF AESTHETIC JUDGEMENT - Cain Samuel Todd, Centre for Philosophy, IEPPP, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YG, UK.
My primary aim in this paper is to outline a quasi-realist theory of aesthetic judgement. Robert Hopkins has recently argued against the plausibility of this project because he claims that quasi-realism cannot explain a central component of any expressivist understanding of aesthetic judgements, namely their supposed ‘autonomy’. I argue against Hopkins’s claims by contending that Roger Scruton’s aesthetic attitude theory, centred on his account of the imagination, provides us with the means to develop a plausible quasi-realist account of aesthetic judgement.

Pragmatism, Quasi-realism and the Global Challenge
Expressivism is typically a local view. An expressivist about moral or aesthetic judgments will contrast these judgments to "genuinely" descriptive claims. This contrast comes under pressure from several directions, however.

Minimalism versus Quasi-Realism: Why The Minimalist Has A Dialectical Advantage
Alan Thomas, King's College, London
Minimalist and quasi-realist approaches to problematic discourses such as the causal, moral and modal are compared and contrasted. The problem of unasserted contexts demonstrates that while quasi-realism can meet the challenge of reconstructing a logic of "commitment" to cover both "projected" and "detected" discourses, it can only do so at an unacceptable cost. The theory must globally revise logic, in spite of its implicit commitment to a substantial notion of truth for "detected" discourses.
Thus, quasi-realism fails to meet its own standards for theory acceptance. By contrast, minimalism does not face the problem of unasserted contexts, can give a global account of the truth predicate and can explain the univocality of the logical connectives. This demonstrates the dialectical superiority of the minimalist's approach.
The aim of this paper is to compare and contrast two research programmes, minimalism and quasi-realism, in their approaches to such problematic areas of discourse as the modal, the moral and the causal.
The two theories are in many ways very similar. They are both opposed to "quietistic" stances towards realism which advocate reiterating the standards of objectivity immanent in discourses from an "internal" perspective. As Blackburn neatly puts it, "loss of a global issues is not a global loss of issues".

Fictionalism, Quasi-Realism and the Question of Right
Michael Hicks, Johns Hopkins University
A well-known trouble in ontological debates, e.g., about abstracta, is tracking down just what is at stake in the debate. Simon Blackburn has claimed that such debates are best interpreted as concerned with the right to employ the vocabulary in question.
I argue that fictionalism about abstracta is a well-motivated anti-realist response to Blackburn’s question of right, but one that ultimately fails, in a suggestive way. The fictionalist herself ends up a subtle realist.

Quasi-Realism and Ethical Appearances
Edward Harcourt, Department of Philosophy, School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent at Canterbury
The paper develops an attack on quasi-realism in ethics, according to which expressivism about ethical discourse—understood as the thesis that the states that discourse expresses are non-representational—is consistent with some of the discourse's familiar surface features, thus ‘saving the ethical appearances’. A dilemma is posed for the quasi-realist. Either ethical discourse appears, thanks to those surface features, to express representational states, or else there is no such thing as its appearing to express such states.

Quasi-realism, sensibility theory, and ethical relativism = Le quasi-réalisme, la théorie de la sensibilité et le relativisme éthique
KIRCHIN Simon, University of Sheffield, ROYAUME-UNI
This paper is a reply to Simon Blackburn's Is Objective Moral Justification Possible on a Quasi-realist Foundation?' Inquiry 42 (1999), pp. 213-28. Blackburn attempts to show how his version of non-cognitivism - quasi-realist projectivism - can evade the threat of ethical relativism, the thought that all ways of living are as ethically good as each other and every ethical judgment is as ethically true as any other. He further attempts to show that his position is superior in this respect to, amongst other accounts, sensibility theory (or 'secondary quality' theory). According to Blackburn, sensibility theory succumbs easily to the relativistic challenge because it depends on some 'substantive' notion of truth. It is agreed with Blackburn that the threat of relativism is less of a threat to him than at first appears, although I think that it retains some menace, but not agreed that sensibility theorists cannot also counter the threat of relativism (although, again, ethical relativism retains some menace in the face of the sensibility theorist's reply). The point is that the threat of ethical relativism depends less on truth than Blackburn supposes. Thus sensibility theorists can counter ethical relativism in much the same way that quasi-realist projectivists can.

Quasi-Realism, Negation and the Frege-Geach Problem
Nicholas Unwin, Bolton Institute
Every expressivist theory of moral language requires a solution to the Frege-Geach problem, i.e., the problem of explaining how moral sentences retain their meaning in unasserted (e.g., conditional and disjunctive) contexts. An essential part of Blackburn's 'quasi-realist project', i.e., the project of showing how we can earn the right to treat moral sentences as if they have ordinary truth-conditions, is to provide a sophisticated solution. I show, however, that simple negated contexts provide a fundamental difficulty, since accepting the negation of a sentence is easily confused with merely refusing to accept that sentence. I argue that Blackburn's model-set semantics for his 'Hooray!' and 'Boo!' operators requires logical apparatus to which he is not entitled. I consider various modifications, but show that they do not succeed.

Quasi-realism and Relativism
A. W. Moore, St. Hugh's College

QUASI-REALISM IN MORAL PHILOSOPHY
From An interview with SIMON BLACKBURN
By Darlei Dall´Agnol
You have been developing over the years a metaphysical program known as “quasi-realism”. How would you explain it in a few words to our readers?
I think, the easiest way to understand my program is if we look back to people like A. J. Ayer, Language, truth and logic, Charles Stevenson, Ethics and language, and the expressivist or emotivist traditions in ethics. The situation in about 1970 was that the emotivists were very much on the retreat. People had arguments against them.

Essays in Quasi-Realism
Simon Blackburn, one of our leading philosophers, explores one of the most profound and fertile of philosophical problems: the way in which our judgments relate to the world. This debate has centered on realism. The figure of the "quasi-realist" dramatizes the difficulty of conducting these debates. The quasi-realist challenge is that we can have attachments without any metaphysic that deserves to be called realism, so that the metaphysical picture that goes with our practices is quite idle.