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Professor Stephen Finlay (University of Southern California) gave a talk recently at the Oxford Moral Philosophy Seminar on ‘Metaethical Contextualism Defended’, which he co-wrote with Gunnar Björnsson. A copy of the paper can be found here and they would welcome any comments/suggestions. Here’s an abstract of the talk:

Epistemic and deontic judgments (involving modals like ‘must’, ‘may’, and ‘ought’) seem to be essentially relative to different sets of information, and it is a perennially popular view that deontic judgments are additionally relative to different standards or ends. There are three schools of thought on how to accommodate this relativity in the semantics of modals: contextualism, invariantism, and relativism. For many reasons contextualism is a natural and appealing view, but recently it has been the target of a barrage of objections. In this paper we defend a form of contextualism about deontic modals against these objections, and argue that they fail to show any advantage for contextualism’s rivals. Many of our points can be generalized for contextualist treatments of other kinds of terms, but here we limit our focus to the deontic case.


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