This is related to the Finlay thread, but I thought it might raise more general questions.
One of the most famous sets of normative statements in Western culture would be the Ten Commandments. These were written in a language that simply does not have a word that behaves like ‘ought’. To say things that in English would invite ‘ought’ you use “needs to”, “must” or “has the obligation to” or, for non-normative use, “is supposed to”. No “shalt” either, by the way. When God forbid lying he takes the future form of “lie” in the second person and puts “not” in front of it. The whole auxiliary verb thing is alien to Hebrew, with the possible exception of “be”.
I am a big fan of appeal to ordinary language and a big fan of hair splitting, but I fear – for my own sake too – that if you mix together hefty doses of both, you might end up with findings that hang on the specifics of the language you (or your research subjects) speak.
More specifically: to say that a certain philosophical position is only ever held as a result of a linguistic mixup sounds weird to me if people can hold the very same position who speak a language that does not allow a parallel mixup to happen.
I am asking this from a position of ignorance of the relevant literature, but… Any thoughts?
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