Here's a question that's been bothering me for a while. (I seem to remember that someone - it could have been Gideon Rosen - raised something like it in the discussion following my talk at the last Arche Modality Workshop.)
Could one be a non-cognitivist about (say) ethics without thereby being an ethical anti-realist in the sense I favour, i.e. without believing that what it is for an ethical proposition to be true is for us to be some way?
Suppose you're a non-cognitivist about ethics because you think ethical discourse is expressive of our attitudes. Surely you'll therefore agree that what it is for murder to be wrong is for us to have a certain kind of attitude to murder?
One reason why you might not agree is that you might think that nothing is what it is for murder to be wrong. You might think that there is no way for the world to be that would correspond to murder being wrong, since ethical discourse does not correspond to states of affairs or facts in the way a cognitive discourse does. But if someone were to claim that what it is for murder to be wrong is for us to disapprove of it, we would take her as saying that there are ethical facts, it's just that they are facts about our attitudes.
But why should we take 'what it is for' (WIIF) talk as talk about states of affairs or facts, when we're dealing with a non-cognitive discourse?
Presumably one motivation for resisting the anti-realist WIIF claim supposed to be that when we say 'murder is wrong' we aren't asserting that we disapprove of murder. But to claim that what it is for murder to be wrong is for us to disapprove of murder is not to claim that when we say 'murder is wrong' we are asserting that we disapprove of murder. (Similarly, to say that mental states are brain states is not to say that when I say 'I'm happy' I'm asserting that I'm in brain state B. I may never have heard of brain state B.)