The Metaethics of Gender

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


This chapter argues that some of the traditional arguments for expressivism in metaethics carry over to the case of gender ascriptions. Descriptivist views about the semantics of gender ascriptions fall short in explaining certain kinds of disagreement in ways that are similar to the ways in which descriptivist views about normative terms fall short. This suggests an argument for expressivism about gender ascriptions. to The chapter explores the idea that if gender ascriptions are normative, we might understand gender terms on the model of ethically thick terms. One way of avoiding the conclusion that gender ascriptions are expressive and/or normative is to argue that the relevant kinds of disagreement are instances of metalinguistic negotiation. After presenting some concerns associated with this explanation, the chapter closes with a discussion of some of the reasons for thinking that the realist might get back in the game.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationOxford Studies in Metaethics
Subtitle of host publicationVolume 16
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9780192897466
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Expressivism
  • Gender
  • Metalinguistic negotiation
  • Moral disagreement
  • Thick terms


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