PHIL Seminar: “Expressivism, Subjectivism, and Inquiry”, Phil Clark, 3:30PM March 17 (EN)

Title: Expressivism, Subjectivism, and Inquiry

By Phil Clark (Philosophy, Toronto)

Date: Thursday March 17, 2022
Time: 15.30-17.00

Zoom: go to

Abstract: The view now known as expressivism derives its name from a distinction between expressing and reporting an attitude. Expressivists use this distinction to explain why they are not subjectivists. Subjectivism about some topic, they say, is the view that our talk about that topic reports our attitudes. Expressivism, by contrast, is the view that our talk expresses, as opposed to reporting, our attitudes. As Mark Schroeder notes, however, expressivists have had “a hard time shaking” the charge that their view is somehow subjectivist or mind-dependent. I offer a diagnosis of this situation. The reason we have trouble articulating the charge of subjectivism, I argue, is that we look in the wrong place. We look at what expressivists say about judgments and language, when we should be looking at what expressivists imply, but do not say, about inquiry. Thinking that p is one thing and considering whether p is another. It is what expressivists imply about the latter that makes them subjectivists.

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