David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Telenomic Agency: Towards a proper functions theory of normativity (pdf) is a recent paper on the biological basis of normativity. This paper attempts to show that the notion of biological function/malfunction has more to offer our understanding of genuine agency than is usually acknowledged. It is suggested that moral and rational normativity attach to signals in very specific biological regulatory systems, and that the complexity of these systems accounts for much of the phenomenological richness of agency, as well as showing the error in standard counterexamples. If this is correct, it turns out that the incommensurability between "is" and "ought" may be due to the requirements of the systems within which descriptive and overtly normative language have their biologically normative roles, rather than to any incompleteness in naturalistic accounts. One consequence is that moral language can have objective (and naturalistically specifiable) truth conditions, without special moral facts and without reducibility to naturalistic description.
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