Expressing experience: Not necessarily ‘stoned’, but ‘beautiful’
It has been frequently observed in the literature that assertions of sentences containing predicates of personal taste like ‘tasty’ and ‘fun’ give rise to an acquaintance inference that is not present in assertions of sentences containing non-subjective predicates. An utterance of “sea urchin is tasty,” for example, implies that the speaker has first-hand experience of the taste of sea urchin, but an utterance of “sea urchin is orange” does not imply first-hand experience of the color of sea urchin. The goal of this talk is to develop and defend a broadly expressivist account of this phenomenon: acquaintance inferences arise because plain sentences containing subjective predicates are designed to express distinguished kinds of mental states, which differ from beliefs in that they can only be acquired by undergoing certain experiences. The resulting framework accounts for a range of data surrounding acquaintance inferences, as well as for striking parallels between acquaintance inferences in subjective predication and the kind of considerations that have fueled motivational internalism about the language of morals.