We can’t have no satisfaction

Teresa Marques


Many authors agree that there is a dimension of conflict expressed through discourse that eludes purely semantic approaches. How and why do conative attitudes conflict? The latter question is the object of this paper. Conflicts of attitudes are typically modelled on one of two models. The first imposes a Subjective Rationality constraint on conflicting attitudes, and the second depends on the impossibility of Joint Satisfaction. This paper assesses whether either of the two conditions can account for conflicting attitudes. First, it argues that Subjective Rationality cannot account for intersubjective conflicts. Second, it presents putative counterexamples to Joint Satisfaction. The counterexamples arise on the assumption that the attitudes are first personal. The paper then explores two alternatives: nihilism about attitudinal conflicts, and dropping the assumption that the relevant attitudes are first-personal states. Embracing nihilism would be devastating for expressivists and other non-cognitivists. But dropping the assumption on which the counterexamples to Satisfaction depend requires a new account of the conative attitudes expressed in value discourse. The paper concludes by pointing to an alternative.

Keywords: value discourse, conflicting attitudes, disagreement.

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