Sunday, February 28, 2010

Finlay on Oughts and Ends

Stephen Finlay has an excellent paper, called Oughts and Ends (PDF); in it he argues for a close cousin of the view of 'oughts' that I've argued for here at Siris. He calls it an end-relational view; I think it's clear that it's obviously right in its basic points, although I think there's room for refinement of a couple of points. The only thesis that should be even remotely controversial here is Finlay's Sixth Thesis and his handling of 'ought' simpliciter. But, as I've said before, I find that the reason that the "You can't derive an 'ought' from an 'is'" slogan has such durability is that it has no stable and definite meaning: everyone means something different by it. It's time to put it to bed: it's obviously false as is, and if people mean something that differs from what it says on the surface, they should come out and say it.

In any case, Finlay develops points that I haven't ever developed, and, while I don't agree with every point, he does a good job in going beyond the fairly limited position I've expressly discussed here, on grounds independent of those to which I've appealed.

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