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Collective Attitudes and Normative Disagreement

Final Report Summary - CAND (Collective Attitudes and Normative Disagreement)

The project CAND applied state-of-the-art theories and arguments of contextualist semantics about deontic modals and value predicates to the case of statements of law (i.e. statements of what, according to law, one ought to do). This was achieved by a systematic exploration of the relationship between four debates: first, the problem of the semantics and pragmatics of ought and might claims in philosophy of language; second, the debate on the perspectival nature of legal statements in legal philosophy; third, the debate on dispositional accounts of normative facts and values in metaphysics and metaethics; and fourth, the debate on collective intentionality in the philosophy of mind and action. Marques’s guiding research idea was that contextualist semantics is adequate for all normative statements, and difficult cases can be explained with a combination of (i) pragmatic accounts of the metalinguistic selection of appropriate standards, and (ii) proper accounts of collective intentionality. The project pursued three objectives:
(O1) To develop the case for contextualism about deontic modals in the domain of normative legal statements and judgments;
(O2) To investigate the role of joint commitments and collective intentionality in normative disputes, and in the constitution of normative facts;
(O3) To assess the relevance of the results achieved under O1 and O2 for the on-going debate about legal positivism and the nature of law.

CAND constituted a remarkable opportunity for Teresa Marques: to conduct research under the supervision of Josep Joan Moreso, with the University Pompeu Fabra’s Law & Philosophy Research Group, and to acquire the necessary skills in jurisprudence. These skills complement her philosophical training, are essential for the objectives and aims set out in the project, and are crucial for her long-term career plans.

Ten articles were either submitted to peer reviewed journals or commissioned by invitation, and are forthcoming, have already been published, or are soon appearing in print. Three more papers are presently submitted and under review. A book is forthcoming with Oxford University Press (co-edited with Prof. Åsa Wikforss from Stockholm University; the book contract was signed in August 2016). There are five more work-in-progress papers to be submitted during the next 12 months. Of the published articles, three are encyclopaedia entries related to the topics of this project (outreach publications). I have carried our two experiments related to objective O1 of the project, in collaboration with Prof. Joshua Knobe of Yale University and with the support of the Social Sciences Lab of University Pompeu Fabra, whose results are reported in one of the work-in-progress papers. I spent one month as Visiting Professorial Fellow with Eidyn – The Edinburgh Center for Epistemology, Mind, and Normativity, at the University of Edinburgh, and carried out mentoring activities (‘piggy-back sessions’) with graduate students while there. I am also an International Partner in their new project The Foundations of Normativity, coordinated by Prof. Matthew Chrisman. I have given lectures to faculty and graduate students, and tutorials to students, in South America (SADAF, Argentina; University of the Republic, Uruguay), Europe (University of Zurich, Switzerland, University of Konstanz, Germany; University of Milan and University of Pisa, Italy, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, Humboldt University, University of Bonn, University of Göttingen, Germany; CSMN, University of Oslo, Norway); Asia (Peking University, Macau University) and I’ve also presented contributed lectures at conferences in Ponta Delgada and Oporto, Portugal, and Barcelona, Spain. I delivered two lectures at the Padova Philosophy Summer School in the end of the summer of 2016.

During the past twenty-four months, I convened three research seminars at University Pompeu Fabra, with the participation of faculty and students. The first was on the semantics and pragmatics of epistemic and deontic modals, the second on Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen’s book Born Free and Equal (OUP), and the third was on collective intentionality. In the last months of the project, I organized a workshop of the NOMOS network (on Sally Haslanger’s forthcoming book Doing Justice to the Social), and, together with my colleague Chiara Valentini at UPF, organized the main conference of the project, Collective Action and the Law. Chiara Valentini and I are preparing a book proposal to submit to OUP with the papers of the conference and some additional invited contributions (the proposal is slightly delayed due to my colleague’s current maternity leave).

The expected final result of the work of the past two years is a new theory – Hybrid Dispositionalism – that accounts at the same time for the nature of the content expressed in normative and evaluative discourse, as is the case of legal discourse, and for the expressive dimension associated with it. This is a major contribution in philosophy of language, metaethics, and philosophy of law. The expected theory has points in common with dispositional theories of response-dependent properties, with other extant contextualist theories of normative and evaluative discourse, and with metaethical expressivist theories. The new theory has implications for legal theorists, philosophers of language, and metaethicists. Two of the papers of this period are applications of the theory (the paper recently published in Inquiry, and a chapter forthcoming in a book published with Oxford University Press.

The experimental results achieved have broader implications in philosophy of language, linguistics, and pragmatics, implications in our assessment of discourse and reasoning under conditions of epistemic uncertainty, and on our thought and discourse when conceptual shifts take place.