Drew Johnson

I am a PhD candidate in philosophy at the University of Connecticut, and a member of UConn's ECOM (Expression, Communication, and Origins of Meaning) research group. My main research interests are in metaethics (esp. hybrid cognitivist/expressivist accounts of ethical thought and discourse), epistemology, and truth.

In my dissertation, supervised by Dorit Bar-On (chair), Michael Lynch, and Paul Bloomfield, I propose an account of ethical thought and discourse that aims to explain the possibility of moral knowledge (on the justified true belief model for knowledge), while also recognizing the connection between moral judgment and non-cognitive motivational states. I accept a neo-expressivist framework for thinking about ethical claims in thought and in speech (see Bar-On and Chrisman 2009; Bar-On, Chrisman, and Sias 2014) that makes a distinction between what ethical sentences semantically express, and what what speakers express in acts of making ethical claims using those sentences.

Ethical sentences, like any ordinary sentence, semantically express propositions. Moral knowledge involves knowing some ethical proposition to be true. However, in acts of making ethical claims, claimers express (in the action sense) non-cognitive motivational states, such as a motivation to act in accordance with a certain standard for action. I add that in acts of making ethical claims using ethical sentences as linguistic vehicles, claimers additionally express their belief in the propositional content semantically expressed by the sentence used. This makes the view a hybrid between traditional cognitivism and traditional non-cognitivism about ethics: In making an ethical claim, claimers both express (in the action sense) a cognitive belief state, as well as a non-cognitive motivational state.

I also have interests in epistemology (in particular, radical skepticism, moral skepticism, and perception), animal ethics, and issues concerning realism, anti-realism, and quasi-realism in ethics.