According to some (but not all) ‘hybrid’ metaethical theories, moral sentences like ‘stealing is wrong’ express both beliefs and desires, but different beliefs for different speakers. I think Paul Edwards was a forebear of this position, but it has recently been defended by Stephen Barker and Michael Ridge.
I understand these kinds of views to work something as follows: every speaker is assumed to have some property, P, such that she disapproves of P-actions. Then, for any given speaker, S, who disapproves of P-actions, ‘Stealing is wrong’ expresses the belief that stealing is P, and expresses disapproval of P-actions.
For example, if Max disapproves of actions which fail to maximize happiness, then ‘stealing is wrong’, when spoken by Max, expresses the belief that stealing fails to maximize happiness, and disapproval of actions which fail to maximize happiness. Similarly, if Jax disapproves of actions whose maxims are non-universalizable, then ‘stealing is wrong’, when spoken by Jax, expresses the belief that the maxim of stealing is non-universalizable, and disapproval of actions whose maxims are non-universalizable.
Now, I think there are many problems with this sort of view, but the one I want to focus on arises when you consider third-person belief reports. Suppose that Max and Jax both believe that the maxim of stealing is non-universalizable, both believe that stealing does maximize happiness, and both believe that each other believe these things. Jax says, ‘stealing is wrong’, and Max believes that Jax is sincere. Max says, ‘Jax thinks that stealing is wrong’.
What I want to know is, whether Max has just said, inter alia, that Jax thinks that the maxim of stealing is non-universalizable, or whether he has just said, inter alia, that Jax thinks that stealing fails to maximize happiness. What should this sort of theory say?