Conference on Moral Contextualism

The department of philosophy at the university of Aberdeen (Scotland) is hosting an international conference on ‘moral contextualism’ on July 4-5 2006. Speakers will include Berit Brogaard, John Greco, John Hawthorne, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Alan Thomas, and Ralph Wedgwood. A part of the conference will be devoted to a mini book-symposium on Walter Sinnott-Armstrong’s new book ‘Moral Skepticisms’. For more information, please visit the conference homepage at


Conference on Moral Contextualism — 2 Comments

  1. It’s an excellent idea to publicize the conference on this site, but perhaps it’s only fair for me to mention that at this conference, I plan to be wearing my metaethics hat, not my epistemology hat! Contextualism is a semantic view, after all, which can be applied to epistemic terms (like ‘know’ and ‘justified belief’), but can also be applied to many other terms as well. I’m interested in defending a general contextualism about all normative and evaluative terms (especially ‘good’ and ‘ought’). Indeed, my view is that epistemic terms are evaluative terms (terms of epistemic evaluation), and so the context-sensitivity of epistemic terms is just an instance of a much more general phenomenon — the context-sensitivity of normative and evaluative terms. (I hope that you think that this topic is within the remit of the conference!)

  2. Excellent topic, Ralph. I look forward to it. I have been thinking a lot about relativism lately (MacFarlane-style); so, I am hoping to say something about that at the conference. I would like to address the following questions. Does moral relativism explain the linguistic data involving ordinary moral expressions like ‘right’ and ‘wrong’? Does it do a better job than the (quite different) moral contextualisms defended by Harman, Dreier, Unger, Norcross, and others? MacFarlane has also been a strong advocate of non-indexical contextualism (just not with respect to moral expressions, as far as I know). I think that the linguistic data will reveal that we should be non-indexical contextualists about ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Or so I intend to argue.

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