Expressivism Generalised (EχGen)

The Scope of Non-Descriptive Thought and Talk

Moral expressivism is the view that moral language and thought are not descriptive. Thinking that murder is morally wrong is not to have a belief that represents a fact of some sort, but to have a practical attitude towards murder (e.g. to disapprove of it); to say "murder is wrong" is to express that attitude. Recently, the debate about expressivism has taken a new turn. A number of philosophers have argued that expressivism can be extended to other domains, covering a large part of everyday thinking and communication. This includes statements about probability, epistemic modality, epistemic justification, knowledge, modality, logic, meaning, and truth. Others have argued that moral expressivism is untenable since the arguments for it generalize to non-moral domains where expressivism is implausible. Against this background, the present project will study the distinction between descriptive and non-descriptive domains of thought and communication through a systematic and comprehensive examination of extensions of expressivism to non-moral domains. We will critically assess recent research on this issue, with the aim of contributing to the understanding of (a) the different distinct domains of thought and communication, (b) the features that make an expressivist analysis apt or not apt in a given domain, (c) the merits of expressivism compared to competing views, (d) the relevance of extensions of expressivism to moral expressivism, and (e) the expressivist framework itself .

Head of the project: Folke Tersman (Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University).

About the Project

The research project is a joint venture between Uppsala university and the University of Gothenburg.




The project is funded by The Swedish Research Council.


PhD Corine Besson
Department of Philosophy
Birkbeck College

Professor Gunnar Björnsson
Dpt. of Historical, philosophical and religious studies
Umeå University

PhD John Eriksson
Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
University of Gothenburg

PhD Ragnar Francén Olinder
Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
University of Gothenburg

PhD Anandi Hattiangadi
Department of Philosophy
University of Oxford, St Hilda´s College

Professor Folke Tersman
Department of Philosophy
Uppsala University

Last modified: 2021-11-09