Shaping the Normative Landscape. By David Owens [Book Review]

Philosophical Quarterly 63 (253):851-853 (2013)
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David Owens argues that we have interests in purely normative phenomena—in particular, in being obligated. That is, obligation is valuable not merely because our more obvious and non-normative interests are served via being obligated and doing what we are obligated to do, but because the various ways in which we obligate ourselves to others, and they to us, are valuable in and of themselves. This is our ‘normative landscape’, and we shape that landscape through our various normative undertakings, such as making promises, consenting, forgiving, and the like. This way of thinking about obligation is highly inviting, and Owens’ careful exploration of both the landscape and the tools we deploy to shape it mark a significant advance in our understanding of ourselves as creatures susceptible to norms and normativity.



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Mark LeBar
Florida State University

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