Research Workshop: "A Katzian Solution to the Moral Twin Earth Problem"

Jeremy Dickinson (Cal Poly)

Friday, March 5, 2021 (12:10-2:00 PM)


Suppose that I utter “Sima morally ought to tell the truth” in a context in which Sima is inclined to lie in order to stave off minor embarrassment and that the expression ‘morally ought’ is used in our moral-linguistic community to refer to a deontological (duty-based) property. Now suppose further that when my twin on Moral Twin Earth (i.e., my moral twin) utters “Sima morally ought to tell the truth” (in the same context as I am in) that he uses the expression ‘morally ought’ in his moral-linguistic community to refer to a consequentialist property. Aren’t my moral twin and I talking about different things? Moreover, suppose Sima tells the truth and that my moral twin and I disagree about the moral status of her action. Aren’t my moral twin and I talking past each other? If we answer these questions in the affirmative, then that would suggest that moral terms like ‘ought’ and ‘right’ are relatively semantically unstable. But terms like these seem to be semantically stable, so something’s got to give. I’d like to venture a solution, a solution that relies on the non-Fregean intensionalism of Jerrold Katz. The basic idea is that Katz’s intentionalism can provide the required semantic stability by freeing a theory of intensions from a theory of reference.


I'm a philosophy educator with lecturer gigs at Cal Poly, SLO (my undergrad alma mater) and Syracuse University (my grad school alma mater). I study philosophy from all its core analytic areas. My philosophical writing is mostly for personal enrichment, podcasting, YouTubing, teaching, silencing the skeptic, defending the platonist, Cartesian, and theist, and perhaps for presenting at a workshop here and there. Of late, my main research interest has been the writing (all of it) of the late, great philosopher of language Jerrold Katz.



All Research workshops will be held via Zoom for the 2020-2021 school year. Zoom links are available on the Philosophy Major and Minor Canvas site.



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