Against contextualism about prudential discourse

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Abstract / Description of output

In recent times, there has been a surge of interest in, and enthusiasm for, contextualist views about prudential discourse—thought and talk about what has prudential value or contributes to someone’s well-being. In this paper, I examine and reject two cases for radical forms of prudential contextualism, proposed by Anna Alexandrova and Steve Campbell. Alexandrova holds that the semantic content of terms like ‘well-being’ and ‘doing well’ varies across contexts. Campbell proposes that there are plural prudential concepts at play in prudential discourse (and in philosophical reflection upon such discourse) and that we find evidence of this in the conflicting commitments of prudential discourse. The negative aim of the paper is to show that Alexandrova and Campbell have not given us a good case for ambitious forms of contextualism about prudential discourse. The positive aim of the paper is to provide alternative, aspectualist, explanations of the features of prudential discourse that their discussions highlight.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699–720
JournalThe Philosophical Quarterly
Issue number277
Early online date21 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • contextualism
  • prudential discourse
  • prudential value
  • well-being
  • conceptual plurality


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