16 Pages

Conceptual Analysis in Metaethics

ByNicholas Laskowski, Stephen Finlay

Despite being considered the traditional and prototypical philosophical method, ­conceptual analysis is an approach to philosophical inquiry with a checkered past and a tarnished reputation. This is particularly true in metaethics, which we understand here as concerned not only with ethics or morality proper but also with the normative more generally. In recent decades, metaethicists have often consigned conceptual analysis to the trash pile of philosophical mistakes, yet it has always had adherents and today enjoys a renaissance. In this selective and opinionated chapter, we explore various dimensions of the debate, framed around two foundational questions: (1) what is it to use and possess a normative concept? and (2) what is it to analyze a normative concept? We attempt to avoid broader questions about the nature and analysis of concepts in general (for orientation, see Margolis & Laurence, 1999, 2015).