LGRP Workshop: Pascale Willemsen
In this paper, we show that the way we use morally evaluative terms to talk about other people’s character or behaviour is systematically asymmetrical. Negative evaluative terms are used to assign blame to a person when they do not meet some moral standard of expectable moral decency. The assertive use of negative evaluative terms almost exclusively serves the purpose of negatively evaluating moral transgressions and assigning blame for them. In contrast, positive evaluative terms have two different uses: 1) a proper evaluative use that is intended to assign praise and to indicate that our moral expectations have been exceeded, and 2) an evaluatively deflated use that lacks an expression of praise. This evaluatively deflated use indicates that an action lies in the zone of moral indifference, in which we remain unmoved and are mostly unwilling to praise or blame the agent.