Quasi-realism is the meta-ethical view claiming that Ethical sentences do not
express propositions. Ethical sentences project emotional attitudes as though they were
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 Hopkinss claims by contending that Roger Scrutons 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
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
Blackburns 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 discourseunderstood as the thesis that the states that discourse
expresses are non-representationalis 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.
in Quasi-Realism Review:
"It is a genuine service to have Blackburn's work brought together....His prose style
is extremely refreshing. He writes with clarity and vigor, without pretension or
over-qualification. Fans of issues concerning realism will know that this is not faint
praise."--The Philosophical Review
"Technically and historically accurate and helpful. Good treatment, especially, of
moral realism." - Manuel Davenport, Texas A & M
This volume collects some influential essays in which 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, or
the view that what we say is validated by the way things stand in the world, and a variety
of oppositions to it. The figure of the "quasi-realist" dramatizes the
difficulty of conducting these debates. Typically philosophers thinking of themselves as
realists will believe that they alone can give a proper or literal account of some of our
attachments, to truth, to facts, to the independent world, to knowledge and certainty. The
quasi-realist challenge, developed by Blackburn in this volume, is that we can have those
attachments without any metaphysic that deserves to be called realism, so that the
metaphysical picture that goes with our practices is quite idle.