|Source: Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.) Oxford studies in metaethics, vol. 1, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006, pp. 325-380|
|Paper - Abstract|
Author’s Introduction (arbitrarily truncated)
that when we say something matters or is important, what we are doing, in saying this, is to express our concern about that something ... Having secured my friend's agreement on this point, I then pointed out to him something that followed immediately from it. This is that when somebody says that something matters or does not matter, we want to know whose concern is being expressed or otherwise referred to. If the function of the expression 'matters' is to express concern, and if concern is always somebody’s concern, we can always ask, when it is said that something matters or does not matter, 'Whose concern?'
that the expression 'Nothing matters' in his mouth could only be (if he understood it) a piece of play-acting, Of course he didn't actually understand it.
My friend ... had thought mattering was something (some activity or process) that things did … If one thinks that, one may begin to wonder what this activity is, called mattering; and one may begin to observe the world closely ... to see if one can catch anything doing something that could be called 'mattering'; and when we can observe nothing going on which seems to correspond to this name, it is easy for the novelist to persuade us that after all nothing matters. To which the answer is, ‘"Matters" isn't that sort of word; it isn't intended to describe something … ‘
For the full text, see Parfit - Normativity.
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