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Normativity

Edited by Federico L. G. Faroldi (Università degli Studi di Firenze, Università degli Studi di Pisa)
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Summary

Defining 'normativity' is itself a normative task, and no clear agreement has been reached on the matter. The normative has often been contrasted with the descriptive; sometimes the normative is thought to be made up of deontic (e.g. 'oughts') and evaluative (e.g. 'good') concepts. 'Normativity' may have at least two senses: first, a nomophoric sense, if one refers to implicit or explicit rules (of various kinds); second, an axiological sense, if one refers to values. Few have defined normativity explicitly; many are interested in the normativity of something else (meaning and content, semantics, aesthetics, moral claims, epistemic norms, context, the law) rather than in normativity itself. When they do, normativity is usually explained (or explained away) with reference to "having reasons".

Key works The contemporary debate on normativity has various threads. A recent, fundamental work dealing directly with 'normativity' tout court is Thomson 2008. The normativity of morality and reason is investigated in Korsgaard 1996. For the normativity of meaning and content, one classical piece is surely Kripke 1982. Fundamental works for the normativity of the law are Kelsen 1967 and Kelsen 1990.
Introductions For an overview of contemporary work on normativity, see Finlay 2010
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Normativity and Naturalism
  1. Christoph Asmuth & Patrick Grüneberg (eds.) (2011). Subjekt Und Gehirn, Mensch Und Natur. Königshausen & Neumann.
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  2. Guy Axtell (2012). The Dialectics of Objectivity. Journal of the Philosophy of History 6 (3):339-368.
    This paper develops under-recognized connections between moderate historicist methodology and character (or virtue) epistemology, and goes on to argue that their combination supports a “dialectical” conception of objectivity. Considerations stemming from underdetermination problems motivate our claim that historicism requires agent-focused rather than merely belief-focused epistemology; embracing this point helps historicists avoid the charge of relativism. Considerations stemming from the genealogy of epistemic virtue concepts motivate our claim that character epistemologies are strengthened by moderate historicism about the epistemic virtues and values (...)
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  3. Guy Axtell (1993). Naturalism, Normativity, and Explanation: The Scientistic Biases of Contemporary Naturalism. Metaphilosophy 24 (3):253-274.
    The critical focus of this paper is on a claim made explicitly by Gilbert Harman and accepted implicitly by numerous others, the claim that naturalism supports concurrent defense of scientific objectivism and moral relativism. I challenge the assumptions of Harman's ‘argument from naturalism' used to support this combination of positions, utilizing. Hilary Putnam’s ‘companions in guilt’ argument in order to counter it. The paper concludes that while domain-specific anti-realism is often warranted, Harman’s own views about the objectivity of facts and (...)
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  4. Aude Bandini (2011). Meaning and the Emergence of Normativity. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (3):415-431.
    Linguistic meaning has an essential normative dimension that prima facie cannot be reduced to descriptive, non-normative, terms. Taking this point for granted, this paper however aims at proposing a naturalist view of semantics - inspired by Wilfrid Sellars' original works - focused on the way the constitutive normative aspects of meaning might be properly explained and accounted for, rather than eliminated.
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  5. Mark Bauer (2009). Normativity Without Artifice. Philosophical Studies 144 (2):239-259.
    To ascribe a telos is to ascribe a norm or standard of performance. That fact underwrites the plausibility of, say, teleological theories of mind. Teleosemantics, for example, relies on the normative character of teleology to solve the problem of “intentional inexistence”: a misrepresentation is just a malfunction. If the teleological ascriptions of such theories to natural systems, e.g., the neurological structures of the brain, are to be literally true, then it must be literally true that norms can exist independent of (...)
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  6. Claus Beisbart (2008). Normativity and Naturalism, Edited by Peter Schaber. European Journal of Philosophy 16 (2):325-329.
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  7. Jan Bransen (2002). Normativity as the Key to Objectivity: An Exploration of Robert Brandom's Articulating Reasons. Inquiry 45 (3):373 – 391.
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  8. Mark J. Cherry (2009). The Normativity of the Natural : Can Philosophers Pull Morality Out of the Magic Hat of Human Nature? In , The Normativity of the Natural: Human Goods, Human Virtues, and Human Flourishing. Springer.
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  9. Stephen R. L. Clark (1985). The Expanding Circle: Ethics and Sociobiology By Peter Singer Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981, Xiv+190 Pp., £6.95The Shaping of Man: Philosophical Aspects of Sociobiology By Roger Trigg Oxford: Blackwell, 1982, Xx+186 Pp., £12.50, £6.95 Paper. [REVIEW] Philosophy 60 (233):411-.
  10. Sharyn Clough (2004). Having It All: Naturalized Normativity in Feminist Science Studies. Hypatia 19 (1):102-118.
    : The relationship between facts and values—in particular, naturalism and normativity—poses an ongoing challenge for feminist science studies. Some have argued that the fact/value holism of W.V. Quine's naturalized epistemology holds promise. I argue that Quinean epistemology, while appropriately naturalized, might weaken the normative force of feminist claims. I then show that Quinean epistemic themes are unnecessary for feminist science studies. The empirical nature of our work provides us with all the naturalized normativity we need.
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  11. Mark Colyvan (2009). Naturalising Normativity. In David Braddon-Mitchell & Robert Nola (eds.), Conceptual Analysis and Philosophical Naturalism. Mit Press.
    In this paper I discuss the problem of providing an account of the normative force of theories of rationality. The theories considered are theories of rational inference, rational belief and rational decision— logic, probability theory and decision theory, respectively. I provide a naturalistic account of the normativity of these theories that is not viciously circular. The account offered does have its limitations though: it delivers a defeasible account of rationality. On this view, theories of rational inference, belief and decision are (...)
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  12. Mario de Caro & David Macarthur (2010). Introduction: Science, Naturalism, and the Problem of Normativity. In Mario de Caro & David Macarthur (eds.), Naturalism and Normativity. Columbia University Press.
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  13. Mario de Caro & David Macarthur (eds.) (2010). Naturalism and Normativity. Columbia University Press.
    Naturalism and Normativity engages with both sides of this debate. Essays explore philosophical options for understanding normativity in the space between scientific naturalism and Platonic supernaturalism.
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  14. Florian Demont (2012). Chomsky's Methodological Naturalism and the Mereological Fallacy. In Piotr Stalmaszcyzk (ed.), Philosophical and Formal Approaches to Linguistic Analysis. Ontos Verlag. 113.
  15. Willem A. deVries (2011). Naturalism, the Autonomy of Reason, and Pictures. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (3):395-413.
    Sellars was committed to the irreducibility of the semantic, the intentional, and the normative. Nevertheless, he was also committed to naturalism, which is prima facie at odds with his other theses. This paper argues that Sellars maintained his naturalism by being linguistically pluralistic but ontologically monistic . There are irreducibly distinct forms of discourse, because there is an array of distinguishable functions that language and thought perform, but we are not ontologically committed to the array of apparently non-natural entities or (...)
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  16. Willem A. DeVries (ed.) (2009). Empiricism, Perceptual Knowledge, Normativity, and Realism: Essays on Wilfrid Sellars. Oxford University Press.
    The ten essays in this collection were written to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the lectures which became Wilfrid Sellars's Empiricism and the Philosophy of ...
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  17. Lorne Falkenstein (1997). Naturalism, Normativity, and Scepticism in Hume's Account of Belief. Hume Studies 23 (1):29-72.
  18. Federico L. G. Faroldi (2012). Fallacia Deontica. From "Ought" to "is&Quot;. Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia Del Diritto 89 (3):413–418.
  19. Kenneth G. Ferguson (2007). Biological Function and Normativity. Philo 10 (1):17-26.
    Ruth Millikan and others adopt a normative definition of biological functions that is heavily used in areas such as Millikan’s teleosemantics, and also for emerging efforts to naturalize other areas of philosophy. I propose an experiment called the Lapse Test to determine exactly what form of normativity, if any, truly applies to biological functions. Millikan has not gone far enough in playing down as “impersonal” or “quasi” the precise mode of normativity that she attributes to biological functions. Further, her mode (...)
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  20. Hans Fink (2006). Three Sorts of Naturalism. European Journal of Philosophy 14 (2):202–221.
    In "Two sorts of Naturalism" John McDowell is sketching his own sort of naturalism in ethics as an alternative to "bald naturalism". In this paper I distinguish materialist, idealist and absolute conceptions of nature and of naturalism in order to provide a framework for a clearer understanding of what McDowell’s own naturalism amounts to. I argue that nothing short of an absolute naturalism will do for a number of McDowell's own purposes, but that it is far from obvious that this (...)
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  21. Maarten Franssen (2006). The Normativity of Artefacts. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (1):42-57.
    Part of the distinction between artefacts, objects made by humans for particular purposes, and natural objects is that artefacts are subject to normative judgments. In this paper I investigate how such judgments fit into the domain of the normative in general and what the grounds for their normativity are. Taking as a starting point a general characterization of normativity proposed by Dancy, I argue how statements such as 'this is a good drill' or 'this drill is malfunctioning' can be seen (...)
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  22. Philippe Gagnon (2014). "Diversité et historique des mouvements écologiques en Amérique du Nord" [Diversity and origins of the ecological movements in North America]. Connaître: Cahiers de l'Association Foi Et Culture Scientifique 40:76-89.
    The development of ecological thinking in North America has been conditioned by the imperative aiming at a valuation of the biotic community. Since the end of WWII, the US population was warned against the dangerous and violent alterations of nature. Many then found in theology an unforeseen ally. I review the roots of the tension which led to debates between radical ecologism or its denial, and I aim at analyzing it philosophically.
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  23. Mark Greenberg, Naturalism and Normativity in the Philosophy of Law.
    In this paper, I criticize an influential understanding of naturalization according to which work on traditional problems in the philosophy of law should be replaced with sociological or psychological explanations of how judges decide cases. W.V. Quine famously proposed the “naturalization of epistemology.” Quine argued that we should replace certain traditional philosophical inquiries into the justification of our beliefs with empirical psychological inquiry into how we actually form beliefs. In a prominent series of papers and a forthcoming book, Brian Leiter (...)
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  24. Stephen S. Hanson (2009). Pt. 4. The Challenge of Deriving an Ought From an Is. Can Moral Norms Be Derived From Nature? The Incompatibility of Natural Scientific Investigation and Moral Norm Generation / Ian Nyberg ; Moral Acquaintances and Natural Facts in the Darwinian Age. [REVIEW] In Mark J. Cherry (ed.), The Normativity of the Natural: Human Goods, Human Virtues, and Human Flourishing. Springer.
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  25. T. H. Ho (2014). Naturalism and the Space of Reasons in Mind and World. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 22 (1):49-62.
    This paper aims to show that many criticisms of McDowell’s naturalism of second nature are based on what I call ‘the orthodox interpretation’ of McDowell’s naturalism. The orthodox interpretation is, however, a misinterpretation, which results from the fact that the phrase ‘the space of reasons’ is used equivocally by McDowell in Mind and World. Failing to distinguish two senses of ‘the space of reasons’, I argue that the orthodox interpretation renders McDowell’s naturalism inconsistent with McDowell’s Hegelian thesis that the conceptual (...)
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  26. Wybo Houkes (2002). Normativity in Quine's Naturalism: The Technology of Truth-Seeking? [REVIEW] Journal for General Philosophy of Science 33 (2):251-267.
    In this paper, I review Quine's response to the normativity charge against naturalized epistemology. On this charge, Quine's naturalized epistemology neglects the essential normativity of the traditional theory of knowledge and hence cannot count as its successor. According to Quine, normativity is retained in naturalism as ‘the technology of truth-seeking’. I first disambiguate Quine's naturalism into three programs of increasing strength and clarify the strongest program by means of the so-called Epistemic Skinner Box. Then, I investigate two ways in which (...)
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  27. Henry Jackman, Pragmatism, Normativity and Naturalism.
    This paper argues that, according to James, we are committed to their being a kind of stable consensus, and we are committed to its being one that we can recognize ourselves in, but by underwriting such regulative ideals through a ‘will to believe’ rather than a transcendental argument, we make our commitment to their being an end of inquiry a practical rather than theoretical one. Objectivity is something we are committed to making, not something that we are committed to their (...)
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  28. Ian James Kidd (2013). Is Naturalism Bleak? Environmental Values 22 (6):689-702.
    Although Cottingham and Holland make a persuasive case for the claim that it is difficult to situate a meaningful life within a Darwinian naturalistic cosmology, this paper argues that their case should be modified in response to the apparent fact that certain persons seem genuinely not to experience the ‘bleakness’ that they describe. Although certain of these cases will reflect an incomplete appreciation of the existential implications of Darwinian naturalism, at least some of those cases may be genuine. The resulting (...)
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  29. Pim Klaassen, Erik Rietveld & Julien Topal (2010). Inviting Complementary Perspectives on Situated Normativity in Everyday Life. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (1):53-73.
    In everyday life, situations in which we act adequately yet entirely without deliberation are ubiquitous. We use the term “situated normativity” for the normative aspect of embodied cognition in skillful action. Wittgenstein’s notion of “directed discontent” refers to a context-sensitive reaction of appreciation in skillful action. Extending this notion from the domain of expertise to that of adequate everyday action, we examine phenomenologically the question of what happens when skilled individuals act correctly with instinctive ease. This question invites exploratory contributions (...)
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  30. Kathleen Lennon (2000). Normativity, Naturalism and Perspectivity. Philosophical Explorations 3 (2):138 – 151.
    Normative links have been considered a problem for reductionist theories of mind, primarily because of lack of isomorphism between intentional and non-intentional conceptual schemes. The paper suggests a more radical tension between normative rationality and scientific naturalism. Normative explanations involve the recognition that agents are also subjects of experience. The distinctive form of intelligibility they bestow requires engagement with such subjectivity.
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  31. Micah Lott (2013). Does Human Nature Conflict with Itself? Human Form and the Harmony of the Virtues. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 87 (4):657-683.
    Does possessing some human virtues make it impossible for a person to possess other human virtues? Isaiah Berlin and Bernard Williams both answered “yes” to this question, and they argued that to hold otherwise—to accept the harmony of the virtues—required a blinkered and unrealistic view of “what it is to be human.” In this essay, I have two goals: (1) to show how the harmony of the virtues is best interpreted, and what is at stake in affirming or denying it; (...)
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  32. Micah Lott (2012). Have Elephant Seals Refuted Aristotle? Nature, Function, and Moral Goodness. Journal of Moral Philosophy 9 (3):353-375.
    An influential strand of neo-Aristotelianism, represented by writers such as Philippa Foot, holds that moral virtue is a form of natural goodness in human beings, analogous to deep roots in oak trees or keen vision in hawks. Critics, however, have argued that such a view cannot get off the ground, because the neo-Aristotelian account of natural normativity is untenable in light of a Darwinian account of living things. This criticism has been developed most fully by William Fitzpatrick in his book (...)
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  33. Sabina Lovibond (2004). Reply to McNaughton and Rawling (Paper From the 2003 Session, Naturalism and Normativity by David McNaughton and Piers Rawling, and Sabina Lovibond). Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 104 (2):185–201.
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  34. David McNaughton & Piers Rawling (2003). Naturalism and Normativity. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 77 (1):23–45.
    Simon Blackburn can be seen as challenging those committed to sui generis moral facts to explain the supervenience of the moral on the descriptive. We (like perhaps Derek Parfit) hold that normative facts in general are sui generis. We also hold that the normative supervenes on the descriptive, and we here endeavour to answer the generalization of Blackburn’s challenge. In the course of pursuing this answer, we suggest that Frank Jackson’s descriptivism rests on a conception of properties inappropriate to discussions (...)
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  35. David McNaughton, Piers Rawling & Sabina Lovibond (2003). Naturalism and Normativity. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 77 (1):23 - 45.
    Simon Blackburn can be seen as challenging those committed to sui generis moral facts to explain the supervenience of the moral on the descriptive. We (like perhaps Derek Parfit) hold that normative facts in general are sui generis. We also hold that the normative supervenes on the descriptive, and we here endeavour to answer the generalization of Blackburn's challenge. In the course of pursuing this answer, we suggest that Frank Jackson's descriptivism rests on a conception of properties inappropriate to discussions (...)
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  36. Seiriol Morgan (2006). Naturalism and Normativity. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72 (2):319 - 344.
    Synthetic naturalism is a form of moral realism which holds that we can discover a posteriori that moral properties exist and are natural properties. On this view moral discourse earns the right to be construed realistically because it meets the conditions that license realism about any discourse, that properties it represents as existing pull their weight in empirical explanations of our observations of the world. I argue that naturalism is an inadequate metaphysics of moral value, because parallel arguments to those (...)
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  37. Carlos J. Moya (1996). Naturalism and Normativity. Theoria 11 (3):239-240.
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  38. Carlos J. Moya (1996). Naturalism and Normativity. Theoria 11 (3):239-240.
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  39. Onora O'neill (2009). Applied Ethics: Naturalism, Normativity and Public Policy. Journal of Applied Philosophy 26 (3):219-230.
  40. Onora O'Neill (2009). Applied Ethics: Naturalism, Normativity and Public Policy. Journal of Applied Philosophy 26 (3):219-230.
  41. James R. O'Shea (2011). Normativity and Scientific Naturalism in Sellars' 'Janus-Faced' Space of Reasons. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 18 (3):459-471.
    The thought of Wilfrid Sellars has figured prominently in recent discussions of the relationship between naturalism and normativity . On the one hand, some have appealed to Sellars' philosophy in defence of the thesis that what he called the normative 'space of reasons' is in some sense sui generis and irreducible to the natural causal order described by the natural sciences. On the other hand, others have exploited equally central aspects of Sellars' philosophy in defence of the seemingly incompatible project (...)
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  42. John F. Post (2006). Naturalism, Reduction and Normativity: Pressing From Below. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (1):1–27.
    David Papineau’s model of scientific reduction, contrary to his intent, appears to enable a naturalist realist account of the primitive normativity involved in a biological adaptation’s being “for” this or that (say the eye’s being for seeing). By disabling the crucial anti-naturalist arguments against any such reduction, his model would support a cognitivist semantics for normative claims like “The heart is for pumping blood, and defective if it doesn’t.” No moral claim would follow, certainly. Nonetheless, by thus “pressing from below” (...)
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  43. Jack Ritchie (2008). Understanding Naturalism. Acumen Pub..
  44. Connie S. Rosati (1995). Naturalism, Normativity, and the Open Question Argument. Noûs 29 (1):46-70.
  45. Joseph Rouse (2003). Remedios and Fuller on Normativity and Science. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 33 (4):464-471.
  46. Richard Rowland (2013). Moral Error Theory and the Argument From Epistemic Reasons. Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 7 (1):1-24.
    In this paper I defend what I call the argument from epistemic reasons against the moral error theory. I argue that the moral error theory entails that there are no epistemic reasons for belief and that this is bad news for the moral error theory since, if there are no epistemic reasons for belief, no one knows anything. If no one knows anything, then no one knows that there is thought when they are thinking, and no one knows that they (...)
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  47. Carl B. Sachs (2012). Resisting the Disenchantment of Nature: McDowell and the Question of Animal Minds. Inquiry 55 (2):131-147.
    Abstract McDowell's contributions to epistemology and philosophy of mind turn centrally on his defense of the Aristotelian concept of a ?rational animal?. I argue here that a clarification of how McDowell uses this concept can make more explicit his distance from Davidson regarding the nature of the minds of non-rational animals. Close examination of his responses to Davidson and to Dennett shows that McDowell is implicitly committed to avoiding the following ?false trichotomy?: that animals are not bearers of semantic content (...)
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  48. Carl B. Sachs (2011). The Shape of a Good Question: McDowell, Evolution, and Transcendental Philosophy. Philosophical Forum 42 (1):61-78.
    I examine John McDowell's attitude towards naturalism in general, and evolutionary theory in particular, by distinguishing between "transcendental descriptions" and "empirical explanations". With this distinction in view we can understand why McDowell holds that there is both continuity and discontinuity between humans qua rational animals and other animals -- there is continuity with regards to empirical explanations and discontinuity with regards to transcendental descriptions. The result of this examination is a clearer assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of McDowell's contribution (...)
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  49. Nicholas Shackel (2014). Still Waiting for a Plausible Humean Theory of Reasons. Philosophical Studies 167 (3):607-633.
    In his important recent book Schroeder proposes a Humean theory of reasons that he calls hypotheticalism. His rigourous account of the weight of reasons is crucial to his theory, both as an element of the theory and constituting his defence to powerful standard objections to Humean theories of reasons. In this paper I examine that rigourous account and show it to face problems of vacuity and consonance. There are technical resources that may be brought to bear on the problem of (...)
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  50. Jessica Spector (2003). Value in Fact: Naturalism and Normativity in Hume's Moral Psychology. Journal of the History of Philosophy 41 (2):145-163.
    Since it is Hume who famously asked how an "ought" can ever possibly be deduced from an "is," it is Hume who is typically cast as the representative of empiricism's inadequacy for doing the work of ethics. Yet, as I will show, in his description of the proper functioning of the passions that necessarily involve other persons and their evaluations of us, Hume provides a naturalistic description that is not reductive of value, but rather incorporates values into the very ground (...)
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