Res Philosophica

Volume 96, Issue 2, April 2019

Reasons and Rationality

Mark van Roojen
Pages 269-288

Second Thoughts about "Wishful Thinking" (and Non-Cognitivism)

Cian Dorr has argued that non-cognitivists must think of reasoning from moral premises to empirical conclusions as akin to wishful thinking. Defenders of non-cognitivism have responded that an adequate solution to the Frege-Geach problem would explain relations of entailment and implication between moral and nonmoral claims and thereby also handle Dorr’s objection. This paper offers a new, more specific, interpretation of Dorr’s objection and one that makes it distinct from worries about Frege-Geach. The paper also explains why non-cognitivists might still reasonably be optimistic that they can allay this version of the worry. Still, successfully undercutting the worry also undercuts one of the prime reasons offered on behalf of non-cognitivism—arguments based on the Humean Theory of Motivation purporting to show that moral judgments cannot be beliefs.