Against Content Normativity

Mind 118 (469):31-70 (2009)
As meaning's claim to normativity has grown increasingly suspect the normativity thesis has shifted to mental content. In this paper, we distinguish two versions of content normativism: 'CE normativism', according to which it is essential to content that certain 'oughts' can be derived from it, and 'CD normativism', according to which content is determined by norms in the first place. We argue that neither type of normativism withstands scrutiny. CE normativism appeals to the fact that there is an essential connection between content and correctness conditions. But, we argue, this fact is by itself normatively innocent, and attempts to add a normative dimension via the normativity of belief ultimately fail. CD normativism, in turn, falls prey to the 'dilemma of regress and idleness': the appeal to rules either leads to some form of regress of rules, or the notion of rule-following is reduced to an idle label. We conclude by suggesting that our arguments do not support naturalism: it is a mistake to assume that normativism and naturalism are our only options
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DOI 10.1093/mind/fzn154
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Peter Carruthers (forthcoming). Two Systems for Mindreading? Review of Philosophy and Psychology:1-22.
Hannah Ginsborg (2012). Meaning, Understanding and Normativity. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 86 (1):127-146.
Pascal Engel (2013). Doxastic Correctness. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 87 (1):199-216.

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