Blackburn's Ruling Passions: A Partial Reply
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Ruling Passions is Simon Blackburn’s latest attempt to defend a theory of practical reason which he calls “expressivism”.2 In the first three chapters Blackburn outlines an account of how we should understand statements of right, good and virtue, as well as their negative counterparts (“the Ethical [or Moral] Proposition”, as he terms this amalgam). This he calls “quasi-realism”. I shall describe what this position entails in the first section. Secondly I shall consider the opposition to this view advanced by McDowell (1987), who in turn takes his inspiration from Wiggins (1976a, 1976b). Finally I shall assess Blackburn’s reply to McDowell and Wiggins (found in Chapter 4 of RP), and argue that it is inadequate.