I’ve been puzzled lately by this fact: ethical expressivism has a lot of (public?) defenders and receives a good deal of attention and epistemic expressivism does not. In fact, epistemic expressivism doesn’t get much attention at all (though perhaps this is changing due in part to this, this, and this). Nevertheless, there is a difference, and I find it puzzling.
Ethical expressivism claims that ethical claims (murder is wrong, you should tell the truth, etc.) don’t describe facts, but merely express emotions (and perhaps attempt to get you to have a similar emotion).
Epistemic expressivism claims that epistemic claims (Smith knows that Ottawa is the capital of Canada, You should believe/are justified in believing that Canada is awesome) don’t describe facts, but merely express emotions (and perhaps attempt to get you to have a similar emotion).
I’m puzzled as to why a ethical expressivist wouldn’t be an epistemic expressivist because ethical claims & properties seems to be a lot like epistemic claims & properties.
For example ethical and epistemic properties are both normative, both supervene on descriptive facts, both can’t be established by science, etc. I don’t feel any pull to ethical expressivism, but what I find harder to see is a pull toward ethical expressivism that isn’t also a pull toward epistemic expressivism.
Further, epistemic expressivism seems utterly implausible to me. It is obvious that claims like “I shouldn’t believe that the Earth is flat” are true and that they describe facts. I don’t know that they are more obviously true than their ethical friends, but I take it that they are since epistemic expressivism seems to be so much less popular among philosophers than ethical expressivism.
So, the following argument looks good to me:
P1. If ethical expressivism is correct, then epistemic expressivism is correct.
P2. Epistemic expressivism is not correct.
C. Ethical expressivism is not correct.
So, is that a sound argument? Are there any good reasons to affirm ethical expressivism without affirming epistemic expressivism? For what it’s worth, these considerations seem to apply to all varieties of ethical and epistemic non-realism, but I like alliteration.