There are no thin concepts

Chappell, Timothy (2013). There are no thin concepts. In: Kirchin, Simon ed. Thick concepts. Mind Association Occasional Series. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 182–196.



“Thin concepts” are dubious entities. Careful analysis of the usual examples of thick and thin raises serious doubts about both their conceptuality and their thinness. Confusions aside, there is little obvious use for them in ethics or metaethics. The very idea that there could be a naturally-occurring purely evaluative moral concept, with no descriptive content, no cultural setting, and no capacity for distanced or ironic use, is as chimerical as any other ahistorical illusion. Our concentration on thick and thin has distracted us from thinking about other interesting and important ethical distinctions—evidential/ verdictive, evaluative/ prescriptive, determinable/ determinate, Zangwill’s because-relation, Anscombe’s brute-relative-to relation—which have something genuine and non-illusory on both sides of them.

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