The proposal is to understand moral utterances along the following lines, what we might call the "layered speech-act model" of moral discourse. There are at least two versions of it:
- (V1) When you say 'X is good', you assert that X is good by approving (or: expressing approval) of X.
- (V2) When you say 'X is good', you express approval of X by asserting that X is good.
You perform one speech act by performing another.
Details remain to be worked out, but the initial hope is two-fold. First, that by layering assertion and approval this way, it integrates the intuitive truth-aptness and motivational dimension of moral discourse. Second, that it avoids embedding problems, because it can rely on the logical properties of the propositions asserted.
Any such proposal faces at least three serious questions initially.
- (Q1) Is it ad hoc?
- (Q2) Does it reinvent the wheel?
- (Q3) Can it deliver on the anticipated benefits?
I think the answer to Q1 is clearly 'no'. Elsewhere the "by" relation does indeed layer speech acts as posited here. Answering Q3 will require actually filling in the details, making it clear how either V1 or V2 (or some other layered pair) delivers the goods. I've only indicated in the sketchiest terms how that might go. As for Q2, as best I can tell, no one has explicitly framed matters the way I have here. But perhaps it's appropriate to interpret others as saying basically the same thing in other words.
Anyway, I'd be very pleased to hear what you think about any of the proposals or questions.