Critical Notices/Études critiques

Catching Up With Castañeda

L. W. Sumnera1

a1 University of Toronto

Remember the fifties? That was, among other things, when it was outré for moral philosophers acutally to use moral discourse and de rigueur to theorize about its use. It was when we all read Stevenson and Hare and learned to believe that moral judgments had no truth values and were used to express emotion or to issue imperatives. It was when we came to realize that all previous moral philosophy rested on the mistake of supposing that moral judgments were propositions. How remote it all seems now. Today we write about social justice, sex, death, politics as though there were no question this might be improper. We no longer have the time and patience for the idler and more distant questions of the metalevel. It is correct certainly to call this progress but at a certain price. We tired of the old questions but we never learned how to answer them. The very grip of the noncognitivist fad made illuminating answers unlikely. Perhaps now that the fad is buried and forgotten we can go back to the issues and deal with them in a more fruitful manner.