Ground, Essence, and the Metaphysics of Metanormative Non-Naturalism

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9 (26):674-701 (2022)
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Abstract

The past few decades have witnessed an extraordinary revival of interest in metanormative non-naturalism. Despite this interest, it is still unclear how to understand the distinctive metaphysical commitments of this view. We illustrate the relevant difficulties by examining what is arguably the most prominent class of contemporary attempts to formulate non-naturalism’s metaphysical commitments. This class of proposals, exemplified in work by Gideon Rosen and Stephanie Leary, characterizes the distinctive metaphysical commitments of non-naturalism in terms of metaphysical grounding and essence. We argue that these proposals overgeneralize: they either misclassify intuitively naturalistic hypotheses about the metaphysics of normativity as “non-naturalist”, or misclassify hypotheses in other areas of metaphysics. We argue that this problem stems from features of grounding itself. We suggest a more promising alternative for formulating non-naturalism, which revolves around the notion of objective similarity between classes of properties. We conclude by drawing some general lessons for inquiry about the metaphysics of normativity, and about metaphysics in general.

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Author Profiles

Tristram McPherson
Ohio State University
David Plunkett
Dartmouth College

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References found in this work

Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: metaphysics, logic, and epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 109-135.
Essence and modality.Kit Fine - 1994 - Philosophical Perspectives 8 (Logic and Language):1-16.
Wise Choices, Apt Feelings.Allan Gibbard - 1990 - Ethics 102 (2):342-356.
The Possibility of Physicalism.Shamik Dasgupta - 2014 - Journal of Philosophy 111 (9-10):557-592.
From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defence of Conceptual Analysis.Frank Jackson - 1999 - Philosophical Quarterly 49 (197):539-542.

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