Ethical concepts are, or purport to be, normative. They make claims on us: they command, oblige, recommend, or guide. Or at least when we invoke them, we make claims on one another; but where does their authority over us - or ours over one another - come from? Christine Korsgaard identifies four accounts of the source of normativity that have been advocated by modern moral philosophers: voluntarism, realism, reflective endorsement, and the appeal to autonomy. She traces their history, showing (...) how each developed in response to the prior one and comparing their early versions with those on the contemporary philosophical scene. Kant's theory that normativity springs from our own autonomy emerges as a synthesis of the other three, and Korsgaard concludes with her own version of the Kantian account. Her discussion is followed by commentary from G. A. Cohen, Raymond Geuss, Thomas Nagel, and Bernard Williams, and a reply by Korsgaard. (shrink)
Normative Externalism argues that it is not important that people live up to their own principles. What matters, in both ethics and epistemology, is that they live up to the correct principles: that they do the right thing, and that they believe rationally. This stance, that what matters are the correct principles, not one's own principles, has implications across ethics and epistemology. In ethics, it undermines the ideas that moral uncertainty should be treated just like factual uncertainty, that moral ignorance (...) frequently excuses moral wrongdoing, and that hypocrisy is a vice. In epistemology, it suggests we need new treatments of higher-order evidence, and of peer disagreement, and of circular reasoning, and the book suggests new approaches to each of these problems. Although the debates in ethics and in epistemology are often conducted separately, putting them in one place helps bring out their common themes. One common theme is that the view that one should live up to one's own principles looks less attractive when people have terrible principles, or when following their own principles would lead to riskier or more aggressive action than the correct principles. Another common theme is that asking people to live up to their principles leads to regresses. It can be hard to know what action or belief complies with one's principles. And now we can ask, in such a case should a person do what they think their principles require, or what their principles actually require? Both answers lead to problems, and the best way to avoid these problems is to simply say people should follow the correct principles. (shrink)
Kiesewetter defends the normativity of rationality by presenting a new solution to the problems that arise from the common assumption that we ought to be rational. He provides a defence of a reason-response conception of rationality, an evidence-relative account of reason, and an explanation of structural irrationality in relation to these accounts.
Moral claims not only purport to be true, they also purport to guide our choices. This book presents a new theory of normative judgment, the "standard-based theory," which offers a schematic account of the truth conditions of normative propositions of all kinds, including moral propositions and propositions about reasons. The heart of Copp 's approach to moral propositions is a theory of the circumstances under which corresponding moral standards qualify as justified, the " society -centered theory." He argues that because (...) any society needs a social moral code in order to enable its members to live together successfully, and because it would be rational for a society to choose such a code, certain moral codes, and the standards they include, are justified. According to the standard-based theory then, if certain moral standards are indeed justified, corresponding moral propositions may be true. Copp 's approach to morality and explaining normativity and the truth conditions of moral claims, raises a number of important issues in moral theory, as well as in metaphysics and the philosophy of language. (shrink)
In this essay, I propose a standard of practical rationality and a grounding for the standard that rests on the idea of autonomous agency. This grounding is intended to explain the “normativity” of the standard. The basic idea is this: To be autonomous is to be self-governing. To be rational is at least in part to be self-governing; it is to do well in governing oneself. I argue that a person's values are aspects of her identity—of her “self-esteem identity”—in (...) a way that most of her ends are not, and that it therefore is plausible to view action governed by one's values as self-governed. This is also plausible on independent grounds. Given this, I say, rational agents comply with a standard—the “values standard”—that requires them to serve their values, and to seek what they need in order to continue to be able to serve their values. Footnotesa I am grateful to many people for helpful comments and discussion over the many years in which I have been developing the ideas in this essay. With apologies to those whose help escapes my memory, I would like to thank Nomy Arpaly, Sam Black, Michael Bratman, Justin D'Arms, Dan Farrell, Pat Greenspan, Don Hubin, Dan Jacobson, Marina Oshana, Michael Ridge, Michael Robins, David Sobel, Pekka Väyrynen, and David Velleman. I presented early versions of some of the ideas in this essay to audiences in the departments of philosophy at the University of Alberta, the University of Maryland at College Park, l'Université de Montréal, the University of Southern California, and the University of Florida, to the 1999 Conference on Moral Theory and Its Applications, Le Lavandou, France, and to the 2001 Conference on Reason and Deliberation, Bowling Green State University. I am grateful for the helpful comments of those who participated in the discussions on all of these occasions and especially to the other contributors to this volume, and its editors. I owe special thanks to Ellen Paul for encouraging me to integrate my thinking on identity with my thinking on rationality and for her useful comments. (shrink)
Moral realism of a paradigmatic sort -- Defending the parallel -- The parity premise -- Epistemic nihilism -- Epistemic expressivism : traditional views -- Epistemic expressivism : nontraditional views -- Epistemic reductionism -- Three objections to the core argument.
In this excellent, clearly written, and clear sighted book, Terence Cuneo defends moral realism from a variety of different attacks. Cuneo is particularly interested in the charge that the moral facts that realists posit are suspect because they are unnatural and queer. He addresses a number of arguments against realism, not least Mackie's Argument from Queerness. What makes the book distinctive is its strategy. Cuneo is keen to show that moral facts and epistemic facts are very similar, if not inseparably (...) intertwined in many cases, and to argue that we should not find moral realism odd since we do not find epistemic realism odd. Indeed, towards the start he begins with a number of quotations from those who have cast doubt on moral realism, including Mackie, who themselves point out that there could be parallels between the moral and epistemic cases, but who do not pursue those parallels to any great degree. Cuneo aims to fill this gap, and to do so in favour of the realist. I agree entirely with Cuneo's conclusions and …. (shrink)
Displaying an impressive command of complex materials, Seyla Benhabib reconstructs the history of theories from a systematic point of view and examines the origins and transformations of the concept of critique from the works of Hegel to Habermas. Through investigating the model of the philosophy of the subject, she pursues the question of how Hegel´s critiques might be useful for reforumulating the foundations of critical social theory.
Philosophical theories often hinge on claims about what is necessary or possible. But what are possibilities and necessities, and how could we come to know about them? This book aims to help demystify the methodology of philosophy, by treating such claims not as attempted descriptions of strange facts or distant 'possible worlds', but rather as ways of expressing rules or norms.
Many have been attracted to the idea that for something to be good there just have to be reasons to favour it. This view has come to be known as the buck-passing account of value. According to this account, for pleasure to be good there need to be reasons for us to desire and pursue it. Likewise for liberty and equality to be values there have to be reasons for us to promote and preserve them. Extensive discussion has focussed on (...) some of the problems that the buck-passing account faces, such as the 'wrong kind of reason' problem. Less attention, however, has been paid as to why we should accept the buck-passing account or what the theoretical pay-offs and other implications of accepting it are. The Normative and the Evaluative provides the first comprehensive motivation and defence of the buck-passing account of value. Richard Rowland argues that the buck-passing account explains several important features of the relationship between reasons and value, as well as the relationship between the different varieties of value, in a way that its competitors do not. He shows that alternatives to the buck-passing account are inconsistent with important views in normative ethics, uninformative, and at odds with the way in which we should see practical and epistemic normativity as related. In addition, he extends the buck-passing account to provide an account of moral properties as well as all other normative and deontic properties and concepts, such as fittingness and ought, in terms of reasons. (shrink)
In Norms in the Wild, distinguished philosopher Cristina Bicchieri argues that when it comes to human behavior, social scientists place too much stress on rational deliberation. In fact, she says, many choices occur without much deliberation at all. Two people passing in a corridor automatically negotiate their shared space; cars at an intersection obey traffic signals; we choose clothing based on our instincts for what is considered appropriate. Bicchieri's theory of social norms accounts for these automatic components of coordination, where (...) individuals react automatically to cues that focus their attention on what the norm is in that situation. Social norms thus act as rules for making choices in a social world where people expect others -- often unconsciously -- to follow the same rule. Some norms enable seamless social co-operation, while others are less beneficial to human flourishing.Bicchieri is famous for her interdisciplinary work on game theory and most recently her work on social norms, and Norms in the Wild represents her latest challenge to many of the fundamental assumptions of the social sciences. Bicchieri's work has broad implications not only for understanding human behavior, but for changing it for better outcomes. People have a strongly conditioned preference for following social norms, but that also means that manipulating their expectations can cause major behavioral changes. Bicchieri has been working recently with UNICEF and other NGO's to explore the applicability of her views to issues of human rights around the world. Is it possible to change social expectations around forced marriage, genital mutilations, and public health practices like vaccinations and sanitation? If so, how? What tools might we use? This short book explores how social norms work, and how changing them - changing preferences, beliefs, and especially social expectations - can potentially improve lives all around the world. It will appeal to an unusually broad range of readers including philosophers, psychologists and others in behavioral sciences, and anyone involved in public policy or at NGOs. (shrink)
Norms are a pervasive yet mysterious feature of social life. In Explaining Norms, four philosophers and social scientists team up to grapple with some of the many mysteries, offering a comprehensive account of norms: what they are; how and why they emerge, persist and change; and how they work.
In this commentary, I warn against a possible dual process misconception that might lead people to conclude that utilitarian judgments are normatively correct. I clarify how the misconception builds on the association between System 2 and normativity in the dual process literature on logical/probabilistic reasoning, and the classification of utilitarian judgments as resulting from System 2 processing in the dual process model of moral reasoning. I present theoretical and empirical evidence against both premises.
Perfectionism is an underexplored tradition, perhaps because of doubts about the grounds, content, and implications of perfectionist ideals. Aristotle, J.S. Mill, and T.H. Green are normative perfectionists, grounding perfectionist ideals in a normative conception of human nature involving personality or agency. This essay explores the prospects of normative perfectionism by examining Kant’s criticisms of the perfectionist tradition. First, Kant claims that the perfectionist can generate only hypothetical, not categorical, imperatives. But insofar as the normative perfectionist appeals to the normative category (...) of personality or agency, rather than a biological category of humanity, it can represent perfectionist demands as categorical imperatives. Second, Kant accepts a moral asymmetry in which we aim at our own perfection but at the happiness, rather than the perfection, of others. However, the importance of autonomy in normative perfection explains why the perfectionist should recognize a self/other asymmetry. Indeed, when we see how the normative perfectionist can answer Kant’s criticisms while respecting Kant’s own claims about the connection between rational nature and moral requirements, we can see the basis for a normative perfectionist interpretation of Kant’s own ethical theory. Insofar as Kantians and normative perfectionists both base ethical demands on an appeal to rational nature, they face a common worry that the appeal to rational nature is empty or incomplete. Normative perfectionists have more and less concessive responses to this worry, providing perfectionist explanations of various apparently non-perfectionist goods. Even if we end up being pluralists about the good, perfectionist elements play an important role. Finally, because the normative perfectionist, like the Kantian, grounds its ideals and requirements in a conception of persons as rational agents, it provides a promising account of the rational authority of perfectionist demands. This comparison of normative perfectionist and Kantian essentials gives us reason to take the normative perfectionist tradition seriously. (shrink)
John Gibbons presents an original account of epistemic normativity. Belief seems to come with a built-in set of standards or norms. One task is to say where these standards come from. But the more basic task is to say what those standards are. In some sense, beliefs are supposed to be true. Perhaps they’re supposed to constitute knowledge. And in some sense, they really ought to be reasonable. Which, if any of these is the fundamental norm of belief? The (...) book argues against the teleological or instrumentalist conception of rationality that sees being reasonable as a means to our more objective aims, either knowledge or truth. And it tries to explain both the norms of knowledge and of truth in terms of the fundamental norm, the one that tells you to be reasonable. The importance of being reasonable is not explained in terms of what it will get you, or what you think it will get you, or what it would get you if only things were different. The requirement to be reasonable comes from the very idea of what a genuine requirement is. That’s where the built-in standards governing belief come from, and that’s what they are. (shrink)
The concepts we use to value and prescribe are historically contingent, and we could have found ourselves with others. But what does it mean to say that some concepts are better than others for purposes of action-guiding and deliberation? What is it to choose between different normative conceptual frameworks?
It is often claimed that humans are rational, linguistic, cultural, or moral creatures. What these characterizations may all have in common is the more fundamental claim that humans are normative animals, in the sense that they are creatures whose lives are structured at a fundamental level by their relationships to norms. The various capacities singled out by discussion of rational, linguistic, cultural, or moral animals might then all essentially involve an orientation to obligations, permissions and prohibitions. And, if this is (...) so, then perhaps it is a basic susceptibility, or proclivity to normative or deontic regulation of thought and behavior that enables humans to develop the various specific features of their life form. This volume of new essays investigates the claim that humans are essentially normative animals in this sense. The contributors do so by looking at the nature and relations of three types of norms, or putative norms-social, moral, and linguistic-and asking whether they might all be different expressions of one basic structure unique to humankind. These questions are posed by philosophers, primatologists, behavioral biologists, psychologists, linguists, and cultural anthropologists, who have collaborated on this topic for many years. The contributors are committed to the idea that understanding normativity is a two-way process, involving a close interaction between conceptual clarification and empirical research. (shrink)
A number of philosophers, including Kant, Kripke, Boghossian, Gibbard and Brandom, can be read as endorsing the view that concepts are normative. I distinguish two versions of that view: a strong, non-naturalistic version which identifies concepts with norms or rules (Kant, Kripke), and a weaker version, compatible with naturalism, on which the normativity of concepts amounts only to their application’s being governed by norms or rules (Boghossian, Gibbard, Brandom). I consider a problem for the strong version: grasp of a (...) rule seems to require grasp of the concepts which constitute the content of that rule, so how can we explain concept acquisition without falling into regress? I offer a Kantian response, on which grasp of a rule does not require antecedent grasp of concepts, but still involves the recognition of normativity in one’s rule-governed behavior. I distinguish the normativity of concepts, so understood, from the normativity associated with truth or warrant. Keywords: concepts, normativity, rules, Kant, Kripke, Boghossian, Gibbard, Brandom. (shrink)
Normative requirements are often overlooked, but they are central features of the normative world. Rationality is often thought to consist in acting for reasons, but following normative requirements is also a major part of rationality. In particular, correct reasoning – both theoretical and practical – is governed by normative requirements rather than by reasons. This article explains the nature of normative requirements, and gives examples of their importance. It also describes mistakes that philosophers have made as a result of confusing (...) normative requirements with reasons. (shrink)
[David Papineau] This paper disputes the common assumption that the normativity of conceptual judgement poses a problem for naturalism. My overall strategy is to argue that norms of judgement derive from moral or personal values, particularly when such values are attached to the end of truth. While there are philosophical problems associated with both moral and personal values, they are not special to the realm of judgement, nor peculiar to naturalist philosophies. This approach to the normativity of judgement (...) is made possible by naturalist views of truth, that is, views which do not presuppose normativity in explaining truth. /// [Julia Tanney] This paper attempts to describe why it is not possible to account for normative phenomena in non-normative terms. It argues that Papineau's attempt to locate norms of judgement 'outside' content, grounded in an individual's desires or reasons, mislocates the normativity that is thought to resist appropriation within a 'world that conceives nature as the realm of law'. It agrees, however, that a theory of content that locates norms 'inside' content will not be forthcoming-at least if this is to require fashioning the norms that in some sense govern judgment or thought into individually necessary conditions for contentful states. (shrink)
Language is a human universal reflecting our deeply social nature. Among its essential functions, language enables us to quickly and efficiently share information. We tell each other that many things are true—that is, we routinely make assertions. Information shared this way plays a critical role in the decisions and plans we make. In Knowledge and the Norm of Assertion, a distinguished philosopher and cognitive scientist investigates the rules or norms that structure our social practice of assertion. Combining evidence from philosophy, (...) psychology, and biology, John Turri shows that knowledge is the central norm of assertion and explains why knowledge plays this role. -/- Concise, comprehensive, non-technical, and thoroughly accessible, this volume quickly brings readers to the cutting edge of a major research program at the intersection of philosophy and science. It presupposes no philosophical or scientific training. It will be of interest to philosophers and scientists, is suitable for use in graduate and undergraduate courses, and will appeal to general readers interested in human nature, social cognition, and communication. (shrink)
Steven Crowell has been for many years a leading voice in debates on twentieth-century European philosophy. This volume presents thirteen recent essays that together provide a systematic account of the relation between meaningful experience and responsiveness to norms. They argue for a new understanding of the philosophical importance of phenomenology, taking the work of Husserl and Heidegger as exemplary, and introducing a conception of phenomenology broad enough to encompass the practices of both philosophers. Crowell discusses Husserl's analyses of first-person authority, (...) the semantics of conscious experience, the structure of perceptual content, and the embodied subject, and shows how Heidegger's interpretation of the self addresses problems in Husserl's approach to the normative structure of meaning. His volume will be valuable for upper-level students and scholars interested in phenomenological approaches to philosophical questions in both the European and the analytic traditions. (shrink)
This book presents an account of normative practical reasons and the way in which they contribute to the rationality of action. Rather than simply 'counting in favour of' actions, normative reasons play two logically distinct roles: requiring action and justifying action. The distinction between these two roles explains why some reasons do not seem relevant to the rational status of an action unless the agent cares about them, while other reasons retain all their force regardless of the agent's attitude. It (...) also explains why the class of rationally permissible action is wide enough to contain not only all morally required action, but also much selfish and immoral action. The book will appeal to a range of readers interested in practical reason in particular, and moral theory more generally. (shrink)
What are our duties or rights? How should we act? What are we responsible for? Joseph Raz examines the philosophical issues underlying these everyday questions. He explores the nature of normativity--the reasoning behind certain beliefs and emotions about how we should behave--and offers a novel account of responsibility.
Biological organisms, languages and selves are normative entities, so must be understood in terms of norms. Mechanistic understanding is based on causal necessity, but normative understanding relies on a grasp of the contingencies of evolution, history and personal experience.
What should I do? What should I think? Traditionally, ethicists tackle the first question, while epistemologists tackle the second. Philosophers have tended to investigate the issue of what to do independently of the issue of what to think, that is, to do ethics independently of epistemology, and vice versa. This collection of new essays by leading philosophers focuses on a central concern of both epistemology and ethics: normativity. Normativity is a matter of what one should or may do (...) or think, what one has reason or justification to do or to think, what it is right or wrong to do or to think, and so on. The volume is innovative in drawing together issues from epistemology and ethics and in exploring neglected connections between epistemic and practical normativity. It represents a burgeoning research programme in which epistemic and practical normativity are seen as two aspects of a single topic, deeply interdependent and raising parallel questions. (shrink)
Molly Cochran offers an account of the development of normative theory in international relations over the past two decades. In particular, she analyzes the tensions between cosmopolitan and communitarian approaches to international ethics, paying attention to differences in their treatments of a concept of the person, the moral standing of states and the scope of moral arguments. The book draws connections between this debate and the tension between foundationalist and antifoundationalist thinking and offers an argument for a pragmatic approach to (...) international ethics. (shrink)
Konstantin Pollok offers the first book-length analysis of Kant's theory of normativity that covers foundational issues in theoretical and practical philosophy as well as aesthetics. Interpreting Kant's 'critical turn' as a normative turn, he argues that Kant's theory of normativity is both original and radical: it departs from the perfectionist ideal of early modern rationalism, and arrives at an unprecedented framework of synthetic a priori principles that determine the validity of our judgments. Pollok examines the hylomorphism in Kant's (...) theory of normativity and relates Kant's idea of our reason's self-legislation to the 'natural right' tradition, revealing Kant's debt to his predecessors as well as his relevance to contemporary debates on normativity. This book will appeal to academic researchers and advanced students of Kant, early modern philosophy and intellectual history. (shrink)
This paper addresses a problem about aesthetic normativity raised by Kant. Can aesthetic experiences be appropriate or inappropriate to their objects? And, if so, how is that possible given that, according to Kant, aesthetic experience is not objective? Kant thought the answer to the first question was yes. But his official answer to the second question, in terms of the free play of the faculties, is obscure. The paper offers a clearer answer, inspired by Kant, which invokes Wittgenstein’s notion (...) of “knowing how to go on.” Aesthetic normativity is problematic only on the assumption that claims to the normativity of one’s responses to things must be based on the recognition of objective properties of those things. However, Wittgenstein’s discussion shows that we need not accept that assumption. There can be legitimate claims to the normativity of one’s responses which do not rely on those responses’ reflecting appreciation of objective facts. (shrink)
What kinds of norms constrain mechanistic discovery and explanation? In the mechanistic literature, the norms for good explanations are directly derived from answers to the metaphysical question of what explanations are. Prominent mechanistic accounts thus emphasize either ontic or epistemic norms. Still, mechanistic philosophers on both sides agree that there is no sharp distinction between the processes of discovery and explanation. Thus, it seems reasonable to expect that ontic and epistemic accounts of explanation will be accompanied by ontic and epistemic (...) accounts of discovery, respectively. As we will show here, however, recent discovery accounts implicitly rely on both ontic and epistemic norms to characterize the discovery process. In this paper, we develop an account that makes explicit that, and how, ontic and epistemic norms work together throughout the discovery process. By describing mechanism discovery as a process of pattern recognition we demonstrate that scientists have to develop epistemic activities to distinguish a pattern from its background. Furthermore, they have to determine which epistemic activities successfully describe how the pattern is implemented by identifying the pattern’s components. Our approach reveals that ontic and epistemic norms are equally important in mechanism discovery. (shrink)
What is the normative role of knowledge? I argue that knowledge plays an important role as a norm of assertion and action, which is explained and unified by its more fundamental role as a norm of belief. Moreover, I propose a distinctive account of what this normative role consists in. I argue that knowledge is the aim of belief, which sets a normative standard of correctness and a corresponding normative standard of justification. According to my proposal, it is correct to (...) believe, assert and act on a proposition if and only if one is in a position to know it, but one has justification to believe, assert and act on a proposition if and only if one has justification to believe that one is in a position to know it. (shrink)
Sometimes our intentions and beliefs exhibit a structure that proves us to be irrational. This dissertation is concerned with the question of whether we ought (or have at least good reason) to avoid such irrationality. The thesis defends the normativity of rationality by presenting a new solution to the problems that arise from the common assumption that we ought to be rational. The argument touches upon many other topics in the theory of normativity, such as the form and (...) the content of rational standards or requirements, the preconditions of criti¬cism, and the function of reasons in deliberation and advice. Over and above an exten¬sive assessment of the problems discussed in the literature, the thesis provides a detailed defence of a reason-response conception of rationality, a novel, evidence-relative account of reasons, and an explanation of structural irrationality in terms of these accounts. (shrink)
John Rawls argued that democracy must be justifiable to all citizens; otherwise, a democratic society is oppressive to some. In A Pragmatist Philosophy of Democracy (), Robert B. Talisse attempts to meet the Rawlsian challenge by drawing from Charles S. Peirce's pragmatism. This article first briefly canvasses the argument of Talisse's book and then criticizes its key premise concerning (normative) reasons for belief by offering a competing reading of Peirce's “The Fixation of Belief” (). It then proceeds to argue that (...) Talisse's argument faces a dilemma: his proposal of epistemic perfectionism either is substantive and can be reasonably disagreed about or is minimal but insufficient to ground a democratic society. Consequently, it suggests that the Rawlsian challenge can only be solved by abandoning Rawls's own notion of reasonableness, and that an interesting alternative notion of reasons can be derived from Peirce's “Fixation.”. (shrink)
Jennifer Rose Carr’s (2020) article “Normative Uncertainty Without Theories” proposes a method to maximize expected value under normative uncertainty without Intertheoretic Value Comparison (hereafter IVC). Carr argues that this method avoids IVC because it avoids theories: the agent’s credence is distributed among normative hypotheses of a particular type, which don’t constitute theories. However, I argue that Carr’s method doesn’t avoid or help to solve what I consider as the justificatory problem of IVC, which isn’t specific to comparing theories as such. (...) This threatens the implementability of Carr’s method. Fortunately, I also show how Carr’s method can nevertheless be implemented. I identify a type of epistemic states where the justificatory problem of IVC is not a necessary obstacle to maximizing expected value. In such states, the uncertainty stems from indecisive normative intuitions, and the agent justifiably constructs each normative hypothesis on the basis of a consistent subset of her intuitions by reference to the same unit of value. This part of my argument complements not only Carr’s (2020) argument, but also some moderate defenses of IVC. The combination of Carr’s paper and mine helps to illuminate the conditions for maximizing expected value under normative uncertainty without unjustified value comparison. (shrink)
We subject others and are ourselves subjected to risk all the time - risk permeates life. Despite the ubiquity of risk and its imposition, philosophers and legal scholars have devoted little of their attention to the difficult questions stimulated by the pervasiveness of risk. When we impose risk upon others, what is it that we are doing? What is risking's moral significance? What moral standards govern the imposition of risk? And how should the law respond to it? This book highlights (...) these important but neglected questions and offers novel answers to them in a systematic way, constructing a normative framework of risk imposition that draws upon a wide range of insights from diverse sources within philosophy and legal theory.Oxford Legal Philosophy publishes the best new work in philosophically-oriented legal theory. It commissions and solicits monographs in all branches of the subject, including works on philosophical issues in all areas of public and private law, and in the national, transnational, and international realms; studies of the nature of law, legal institutions, and legal reasoning; treatments of problems in political morality as they bear on law; and explorations in the nature and development of legal philosophy itself. The series represents diverse traditions of thought but always with an emphasis on rigour and originality. It sets the standard in contemporary jurisprudence. (shrink)
It seems uncontroversial that perceptual experiences provide us with some “normative support” for beliefs or judgments about our surroundings. Provided that the normative force of perceptual justification is something that manifests itself in consciousness or something we commonly experience, what are its phenomenal features? To put it differently: What is it to experience the normative force of perceptual justification? In the first section I will briefly comment on the demand of a unified theory of perceptual experiences, viz. a theory which (...) is capable of integrating relevant epistemological and phenomenological aspects of perceptual experiences. In section two I will argue for a way of connecting the epistemological problem and the phenomenological problem by appealing to a compare-and-contrast strategy. Eventually, in section three, I will try to draw some lessons for our understanding of the normative force of perceptual justification. (shrink)
Normative explanations of why things are wrong, good, or unfair are ubiquitous in ordinary practice and normative theory. This paper argues that normative explanation is subject to a justification condition: a correct complete explanation of why a normative fact holds must identify features that would go at least some way towards justifying certain actions or attitudes. I first explain and motivate the condition I propose. I then support it by arguing that it fits well with various theories of normative reasons, (...) makes good sense of certain legitimate moves in ordinary normative explanatory discourse, and helps to make sense of our judgments about explanatory priority in certain cases of normative explanation. This last argument also helps to highlight respects in which normative explanation won’t be worryingly discontinuous with explanations in other domains even though these other explanations aren’t subject to the justification condition. Thus the paper aims not only to do some constructive theorizing about the relatively neglected topic of normative explanation but also to cast light on the broader question of how normative explanation may be similar to and different from explanations in other domains. (shrink)
A growing body of research has examined how people judge the persistence of identity over time—that is, how they decide that a particular individual is the same entity from one time to the next. While a great deal of progress has been made in understanding the types of features that people typically consider when making such judgments, to date, existing work has not explored how these judgments may be shaped by normative considerations. The present studies demonstrate that normative beliefs do (...) appear to play an important role in people's beliefs about persistence. Specifically, people are more likely to judge that the identity of a given entity remains the same when its features improve than when its features deteriorate. Study 1 provides a basic demonstration of this effect. Study 2 shows that this effect is moderated by individual differences in normative beliefs. Study 3 examines the underlying mechanism, which is the belief that, in general, various entities are essentially good. Study 4 directly manipulates beliefs about essence to show that the positivity bias regarding essences is causally responsible for the effect. (shrink)
This paper investigates whether different philosophers’ claims about “normativity” are about the same subject or (as recently argued by Derek Parfit) theorists who appear to disagree are really using the term with different meanings, in order to cast disambiguating light on the debates over at least the nature, existence, extension, and analyzability of normativity. While I suggest the term may be multiply ambiguous, I also find reasons for optimism about a common subject-matter for metanormative theory. This is supported (...) partly by sketching a special kind of hybrid view of normative judgment, perspectivism, that occupies a position between cognitivism and noncognitivism, naturalism and nonnaturalism, objectivism and subjectivism, making it more plausible that radically different metanormative theories could be about the same thing. I explore three main fissures: between (i) the “normativity” of language/thought versus that of facts and properties, (ii) abstract versus substantive senses, and (iii) formal versus robust senses. (shrink)
This paper proposes that virtue theories of argumentation and theories of visual argumentation can be of mutual assistance. An argument that adoption of a virtue approach provides a basis for rejecting the normative independence of visual argumentation is presented and its premisses analysed. This entails an independently valuable clarification of the contrasting normative presuppositions of the various virtue theories of argumentation. A range of different kinds of visual argument are examined, and it is argued that they may all be successfully (...) evaluated within a virtue framework, without invoking any novel virtues. (shrink)
The topic of this book is a fundamental philosophical question: why should I be moral? Philosophers have long been concerned with the legitimacy of morality's claim on us, especially with morality's ostensible aim to motivate certain actions of all persons unconditionally. While the problem of moral normativity - that is, the justification of the binding force of moral claims - has received extensive treatment analytic moral theory, little attention has been paid to the potential contribution that phenomenology might make (...) to this central debate in metaethics. -/- In The Phenomenology of Moral Normativity, William H. Smith takes up the question of morality's legitimacy anew, drawing contemporary moral philosophers, particularly Christine Korsgaard and Stephen Darwall, into conversation with present-day phenomenologists like John Drummond and the phenomenological philosophy of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, and Emmanuel Levinas. -/- The results of this juxtaposition are surprising: utilizing a two-part account of moral normativity, Smith contends that the ground of morality itself is second-personal, rooted in the ethical demand intrinsic to other persons, while the ground for particular moral-obligations is first-personal, rooted in the subject's avowal or endorsement of certain moral norms within a concrete historical situation. Thus, Smith argues that phenomenological analysis allows us to make sense of an idea that has long held intuitive appeal, but that modern moral philosophy has been unable to render satisfactorily, namely, that the normative source of valid moral claims is simply other persons and what we owe to them. (shrink)
This chapter offers an analysis of the authoritatively normative concept PRACTICAL OUGHT that appeals to the constitutive norms for the activity of non-arbitrary selection. It argues that this analysis permits an attractive and substantive explanation of what the distinctive normative authority of this concept amounts to, while also explaining why a clear statement of what such authority amounts to has been so elusive in the recent literature. The account given is contrasted with more familiar constitutivist theories, and briefly shows how (...) it answers “schmagency”-style objections to constitutivist explanations of normativity. Finally, the chapter explains how the account offered here can help realists, error theorist, and fictionalists address central challenges to their views. (shrink)
In chapter one I will try to reconstruct a plot, or a hidden agenda, in the discussion in ethics between the beginning of the twentieth century and 1958, the year of a decisive turning point in ethics, both Anglo-Saxon and Continental, and strangely enough also the year of the beginning of the end of the Cold War, of post-Tridentine Catholicism, and perhaps something else. My hypothesis will be that there are two similar starting points for the Anglo-Saxon and the Continental (...) twentieth-century discussion, the philosophies of Henry Sidgwick and Friedrich Nietzsche, both expressions of some kind of ethical scepticism, and that a third, somewhat analogous starting-point could be found in Émile Durkheim, the proponent of the dream of the morale laïque. I will discuss how far the diagnosis formulated by Karl-Otto Apel of a kind of ‘parallel convergence' between existentialism and analytic philosophy, based on the shared division of facts and values that eventually justified two kinds of 'decisionism' is useful in making sense of the agenda of the discussion. In the second chapter I will discuss the reasons for two parallel U-turns around 1958 which brought back traditional schools of normative ethics, 'deontologism' and utilitarianism, as well as the reasons for criticism to both schools from the heterogeneous alignment of virtue ethics. In the third chapter I will discuss the remarkable phenomenon of the emergence, starting with the Sixties or the early Seventies, of ‘applied’ ethics. I examine the reasons, both theoretical and political, for the revival, the point to which applied ethics may look as a grand return of a casuistic and natural law way of thinking, or in Alan Donagan’s words a case of “reverse subversion” of the modern secular world by traditional Scholastic ways of thinking, and the difficult coexistence between general normative ethics and procedures for settling issues in a ‘reasonable’ way while dissent on issues of principle is as alive as ever. Then I try to draw a provisional moral. My suggestions are that (i) casuistry is more alive than ever; (ii) natural law thinking is more alive than ever; (iii) moral dilemmas never arise; (iv) moral dissent is treatable, with the right strategy; (v) practical philosophy does not need the same degree of exactness as the theoretical sciences but this is no obstacle to its working in practice. (shrink)
It is very common these days to come across the claim that the notions of mental content and linguistic meaning are normative notions. In the work of many philosophers, it plays a pivotal role. Saul Kripke made it the centerpiece of his influential discussion of Wittgenstein’s treatment of rulefollowing and private language; he used it to argue that the notions of meaning and content cannot be understood in naturalistic terms. Kripke’s formulations tend to be in terms of the notion of (...) linguistic meaning, but his argumentative strategy makes it clear that he holds both versions of the claim.... (shrink)