Robust vs Formal Normativity II, Or: No Gods, No Masters, No Authoritative Normativity

In David Copp & Connie Rosati (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Metaethics. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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Some rules seem more important than others. The moral rule to keep promises seems more important than the aesthetic rule not to wear brown with black or the pool rule not to scratch on the eight ball. A worrying number of metaethicists are increasingly tempted to explain this difference by appealing to something they call “authoritative normativity” – it’s because moral rules are “authoritatively normatively” that they are especially important. The authors of this chapter argue for three claims concerning “authoritative normativity”: (1) that motivation for it originates in a parochial conception of “normative flavours”; (2) that arguments against alternative ways of explaining e.g., morality’s importance are overblown; and (3) that there are strong reasons against theorizing in terms of “authoritative normativity”. The overarching aim is not to show that “authoritative normativity” is incoherent or entirely unmotivated. Rather, it is to discuss some of “authoritative normativity’s” deeper commitments to correct the impression that is it largely benign or that it is entailed by familiar and popular “metanormative” positions. Authoritative normativity, it seems to us, is a solution in search of a problem.



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Author Profiles

Nathan Robert Howard
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
N. G. Laskowski
University of Maryland, College Park

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