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Normative thought and the boundaries of language

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Consider this little story. On a planet somewhere far away there’s a community, the Tragic. The Tragic are deeply moral, in the sense of caring deeply about doing the right thing, even when that isn’t in their self-interest. They are also very successful in figuring out what’s the “right” thing, in their sense of right. So they very often do what’s “right” in their sense. Perhaps in both these respects they are better than us. Another difference between them and us, more importantly, is that their “right” doesn’t mean what our “right” means. It is true of different actions. In what follows, I will call their concept right “right”, their concept ought “ought”, etc. For purposes of illustration, suppose that their “right” is actually true of some actions you would find quite odious. For example, it may be the brutal sacrifice of a small child for the sake of some supposed greater goal. There’s a clear sense in which the Tragic really seem tragic. Even if they are moral in their sense,. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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