Different Ways to Follow Rules? The Case of Ethics

Olga Ramírez Calle


The aim of this paper is to illustrate a specific case of rule-following by focusing
on moral discourse. The suggestion is that along with the differentiation between
‘basic’ and what has been called ‘modus ponens’ cases of rule-following, we may
distinguish, or specify, a variant or ‘three fold model’ which seems to characterize
moral terms (among others). I consider further how the moral case so understood fits
Wright’s distinction between extension-determining and extension-reflecting cases and conclude that a further
distinction is called for: one not drawing on weather best opinion determines truth,
but on the determinateness of meaning. That is, we may distinguish between open-ended and invariably prefixed
extension determining conditions. The three fold model is a clear case of
determinateness of meaning.

The paper reconsiders McDowell and Blackburn discussion on rule-following, departing
from both and showing the need to adopt the proposed alternative.


philosophy; 20th century philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; varieties of rule-following; ethics; open-ended vs invariably pre-fixed rules; rule-following

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