Edited by Federico L. G. Faroldi (Università degli Studi di Milano)
About this topic

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
Related categories

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Material to categorize
  1. Against Content Normativity. Gl - manuscript
  2. Reclaiming Rationality Experientially: The New Metaphysics of Human Spirit in Hegel’s Phenomenology.Carew Joseph - 2016 - Online Journal of Hegelian Studies (REH) 13 (21):55-93.
    Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit is typically read as a work that either rehabilitates the metaphysical tradition or argues for a new form of idealism centred on social normativity. In the following, I show that neither approach suffices. Not only does the metaphysical reading ignore how the Phenomenology demonstrates that human rationality can never adequately capture ultimate reality because ultimate reality itself has a moment of brute facticity that resists explanation, which prevents us from taking it as a logically self-contained, self-justifying (...)
  3. Reasons or Fittingness First?Richard Rowland - forthcoming - Ethics.
    Conor McHugh and Jonathan Way argue that we should put fittingness rather than reasons first because we can provide an account of the evaluative in terms of the normative only if we put fittingness rather than reasons first. I argue that it is no more difficult to provide an account of the evaluative in terms of the normative if we put reasons rather than fittingness first.
Normativity and Naturalism
  1. Opaque Humours, Enlightened Emotions, and the Transparent Mind.Noga Arikha - 2007 - Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics 51:175-182.
  2. Introduction.Brad Armendt & Kevin Zollman - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 147 (1):1-5.
    Introduction to 'Skyrmsfest: Papers in Honor of Brian Skyrms' issue of Philosophical Studies, January 2010. Remarks about Brian Skyrms and about the 10 papers in the issue.
  3. Naturalising the Design Process: Autonomy and Interaction as Core Features.Argyris Arnellos, Thomas Spyrou & Ioannis Darzentas - 2010 - In Marcin Miłkowski Konrad Talmont-Kaminski (ed.), Beyond Description: Naturalism and Normativity. College Publications.
  4. Subjekt Und Gehirn, Mensch Und Natur.Christoph Asmuth & Patrick Grüneberg (eds.) - 2011 - Königshausen & Neumann.
    Wissenschaft ist Aufklärung. Und sie ist der Wahrheit verpflichtet. Nicht jede Wahrheit ist aber im emphatischen Sinne wahr und genügt dem hehren Anspruch dieses Ehrentitels. Vieles Wahre erscheint uns trivial, manches spannend, einiges auch hochinteressant und von äußerster Wichtigkeit. Als Quell der letzteren Kategorie gelten die modernen exakten Wissenschaften, wie sie sich in den letzten Jahrhunderten in einer immer weiter zusammenwachsenden Welt etabliert haben. Was wirklich, was im empathischen Sinne wahr ist, bestimmen ausgeklügelte Methoden, die unsere Welt messbar und quantifizierbar (...)
  5. The Dialectics of Objectivity.Guy Axtell - 2012 - 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 (...)
  6. Naturalism, Normativity, and Explanation: The Scientistic Biases of Contemporary Naturalism.Guy Axtell - 1993 - 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 (...)
  7. Meaning and the Emergence of Normativity.Aude Bandini - 2010 - 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.
  8. Taking Reasons Seriously in a Naturalistic Account of Normativity.Melissa Joy Barry - 1997 - Dissertation, University of Notre Dame
    Ethical naturalists claim that objectively authoritative moral norms must be located within a naturalistic framework. They think it is unclear what such norms could be or how we could know them; such norms seem too "queer" to fit in a natural universe. In contrast, ethical naturalists think the standards that guide scientific inquiry are normatively unmysterious. However, epistemologists have begun to worry about the dependence of theoretical reason on norms and so have tried to locate epistemic normativity in a naturalistic (...)
  9. Normativity Without Artifice.Mark Bauer - 2009 - 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 (...)
  10. Normativity and Naturalism, Edited by Peter Schaber.Claus Beisbart - 2008 - European Journal of Philosophy 16 (2):325-329.
  11. Evolution and Normativity.Michael Bradie - 2007 - In Mohan Matthen & Christopher Stephens (eds.), Philosophy of Biology. Elsevier. pp. 201.
  12. Normativity as the Key to Objectivity: An Exploration of Robert Brandom's Articulating Reasons.Jan Bransen - 2002 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 45 (3):373 – 391.
  13. Primitive Agency and Natural Norms.Tyler Burge - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 79 (2):251-278.
  14. The Normativity Problem: Evolution and Naturalized Semantics.Mason Cash - 2008 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 29 (1-2):99-137.
    Representation is a pivotal concept in cognitive science, yet there is a serious obstacle to a naturalistic account of representations’ semantic content and intentionality. A representation having a determinate semantic content distinguishes correct from incorrect representation. But such correctness is a normative matter. Explaining how such norms can be part of a naturalistic cognitive science is what I call the normativity problem. Teleosemantics attempts to naturalize such norms by showing that evolution by natural selection establishes neural mechanisms’ functions, and such (...)
  15. The Normativity of the Natural : Can Philosophers Pull Morality Out of the Magic Hat of Human Nature?Mark J. Cherry - 2009 - In The Normativity of the Natural: Human Goods, Human Virtues, and Human Flourishing. Springer.
  16. 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]Stephen R. L. Clark - 1985 - Philosophy 60 (233):411-.
  17. Having It All: Naturalized Normativity in Feminist Science Studies.Sharyn Clough - 2004 - 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.
  18. Naturalising Normativity.Mark Colyvan - 2009 - 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 (...)
  19. Hilary Putnam.Harvey J. Cormier - 2006 - In John R. Shook & Joseph Margolis (eds.), A Companion to Pragmatism. Blackwell.
  20. Andler, Daniel. La silhouette de l’humain. Quelle place pour le naturalisme dans le monde d’aujourd’hui? Paris, Gallimard, coll. « NRF Essais », 2016, 555 p. [REVIEW]Marc-Kevin Daoust - 2016 - Philosophiques 43 (2):540-544.
  21. Introduction: Science, Naturalism, and the Problem of Normativity.Mario de Caro & David Macarthur - 2010 - In Mario de Caro & David Macarthur (eds.), Naturalism and Normativity. Columbia University Press.
  22. Naturalism and Normativity.Mario De Caro & David Macarthur (eds.) - 2010 - Cambridge University Press.
    Normativity concerns what we ought to think or do and the evaluations we make. For example, we say that we ought to think consistently, we ought to keep our promises, or that Mozart is a better composer than Salieri. Yet what philosophical moral can we draw from the apparent absence of normativity in the scientific image of the world? For scientific naturalists, the moral is that the normative must be reduced to the nonnormative, while for nonnaturalists, the moral is that (...)
  23. Naturalism in Question.Mario De Caro & David Macarthur (eds.) - 2004 - Harvard University Press.
    This volume presents a group of leading thinkers who criticize scientific naturalism not in the name of some form of supernaturalism, but in order to defend a ...
  24. Chomsky's Methodological Naturalism and the Mereological Fallacy.Florian Demont - 2012 - In Piotr Stalmaszcyzk (ed.), Philosophical and Formal Approaches to Linguistic Analysis. Ontos Verlag. pp. 113.
  25. Naturalism, the Autonomy of Reason, and Pictures.Willem A. deVries - 2010 - 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 (...)
  26. Empiricism, Perceptual Knowledge, Normativity, and Realism: Essays on Wilfrid Sellars.Willem A. DeVries (ed.) - 2009 - 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 ...
  27. Norms of Judgement, Naturalism, and Normativism About Content.E. Diaz-Leon - 2016 - Philosophical Explorations 19 (1):48-58.
    David Papineau [1999. “Normativity and Judgement.” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 73 : 16–43.] argues that norms of judgement pose no special problem for naturalism, because all such norms of judgement are derived from moral or personal values. Papineau claims that this account of the normativity of judgement presupposes an account of content that places normativity outside the analysis of content, because in his view any accounts of content that place normativity inside the analysis of content cannot explain the normativity (...)
  28. Naturalism: Contemporary Perspectives.Juliano Santos do Carmo, Flávia Carvalho, Clademir Araldi, Carlos Miraglia, Alberto Semeler, Adriano Naves de Brito, Sofia Stein, Marco Azevedo & Nythamar de Oliveira - 2013 - NEPFIL online | Dissertatio's Series of Philosophy.
    The basic assumption present in these articles is that naturalism is highly compatible with a wide range of relevant philosophical questions and that, regardless of the classical problems faced by the naturalist, the price paid in endorsing naturalism is lower than that paid by essentialist or supernaturalist theories. Yet, the reader will find a variety of approaches, from naturalism in Moral Philosophy and Epistemology to naturalism in the Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind and of the Aesthetics.
  29. Schwerpunkt: Naturalismus und Naturgeschichte.E. Engelen - 2001 - Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 49 (6):857-860.
    Der Begriff ‘Naturalismus’ wird hier im Sinne eines „schwachen“ Naturalismus verwendet werden. Der Terminus ist ein Versuch zu verstehen, was es bedeutet, daß der Mensch und der menschliche Geist Teil der natürlichen Welt sind. Zum besseren Verständnis wird dafür in der Mehrzahl der hier veröffentlichten Arbeiten der Begriff der Naturgeschichte herangezogen, der auf die Entwicklungsgeschichte des Menschen verweist. Die hier abgeruckten Beiträge werden dabei zeigen, inwiefern diese Position eines schwachen Naturalismus in philosophischer Hinsicht interessant ist. Es sollen mit anderen Worten (...)
  30. Meaning in Life and the Metaphysics of Value.Daan Evers - forthcoming - De Ethica.
    According to subjectivist views about a meaningful life, one's life is meaningful in virtue of desire satisfaction or feelings of fulfilment. Standard counterexamples consist of satisfaction found through trivial or immoral tasks. In response to such examples, many philosophers require that the tasks one is devoted to are objectively valuable, or have objectively valuable consequences. I argue that the counterexamples to subjectivism do not require objective value for meaning in life. I also consider other reasons for thinking that meaning in (...)
  31. Naturalism, Normativity, and Scepticism in Hume's Account of Belief.Lorne Falkenstein - 1997 - Hume Studies 23 (1):29-72.
  32. Fallacia Deontica. From "Ought" to "Is".Federico L. G. Faroldi - 2012 - Rivista Internazionale di Filosofia Del Diritto 89 (3):413–418.
  33. Biological Function and Normativity.Kenneth G. Ferguson - 2007 - 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 (...)
  34. Truth and Naturalism.Filippo Ferrari, Michael P. Lynch & Douglas Edwards - 2015 - In Kelly J. Clark (ed.), Blackwell Companion to Naturalism. Wiley-Blackwell.
    Is truth itself natural? This is an important question for both those working on truth and those working on naturalism. For theorists of truth, answering the question of whether truth is natural will tell us more about the nature of truth (or lack of it), and the relations between truth and other properties of interest. For those working on naturalism, answering this question is of paramount importance to those who wish to have truth as part of the natural order. In (...)
  35. Three Sorts of Naturalism.Hans Fink - 2006 - 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 (...)
  36. Responding to Normativity.Stephen Finlay - 2007 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Vol. 2. Clarendon Press. pp. 220--39.
    I believe that normative force depends on desire. This view faces serious difficulties, however, and has yet to be vindicated. This paper sketches an Argument from Voluntary Response, attempting to establish this dependence of normativity on desire by appeal to the autonomous character of our experience of normative authority, and the voluntary character of our responses to it. I first offer an account of desiring as mentally aiming intrinsically at some end. I then argue that behaviour is only voluntary if (...)
  37. The Normativity Objection to Normative Reduction.Patrick Fleming - 2015 - Acta Analytica 30 (4):419-427.
    Non-naturalists claim that the nature of normativity precludes the possibility of normative naturalism. In particular, they think that normative reduction amounts to normative elimination. This is because it always leaves out the normative. In this paper, I examine the force that the normativity objection has against Humean reductionism. I argue that the normativity objection has no argumentative force against reductionism. When it is presented as a bare intuition, it begs the question against reduction. A more interesting reading of the argument (...)
  38. The Normativity of Artefacts.Maarten Franssen - 2006 - 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 (...)
  39. "Diversité et historique des mouvements écologiques en Amérique du Nord" [Diversity and origins of the ecological movements in North America].Philippe Gagnon - 2014 - 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 involving radical ecologism or its denial, and I aim at analyzing it philosophically.
  40. Naturalizing the Normative.Eric H. Gampel - 1991 - Dissertation, University of Michigan
    The normative dimension of language and thought has been cited recently in arguments against naturalist reductions of the intentional--of meaning, belief, and desire. These arguments have been met with much scepticism, primarily because their proponents say little about the kind of 'normativity' on which they depend. There is, however, a rich tradition in ethics of thinking about the nature of the normative, and why it might pose a problem for naturalist reduction. ;In this dissertation, I bring the discussions in language (...)
  41. Naturalism and Normativity in the Philosophy of Law.Mark Greenberg - manuscript
    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 (...)
  42. Meaning Without Representation: Essays on Truth, Expression, Normativity, and Naturalism.Steven Gross, Nicholas Tebben & Michael Williams (eds.) - 2015 - Oxford University Press.
    Much contemporary thinking about language is animated by the idea that the core function of language is to represent how the world is and that therefore the notion of representation should play a fundamental explanatory role in any explanation of language and language use. The chapters in this volume explore various ways this idea may be challenged as well as obstacles to developing various forms of anti- representationalism. Particular attention is given to deflationary accounts of truth, the role of language (...)
  43. 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]Stephen S. Hanson - 2009 - In Mark J. Cherry (ed.), The Normativity of the Natural: Human Goods, Human Virtues, and Human Flourishing. Springer.
  44. Naturalism and the Space of Reasons in Mind and World.T. H. Ho - 2014 - 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 (...)
  45. Normativity in Quine's Naturalism: The Technology of Truth-Seeking? [REVIEW]Wybo Houkes - 2002 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 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 (...)
  46. Natural & Normative Dynamical Coupling.Garri Hovhannisyan & Caleb Dewey - 2017 - Cognitive Systems Research 43:128-139.
    Cognitive science has been dealt with the unique task of straddling and bridging the gaps between the mind and the body. One such gap that has not received as much attention within the literature is the gap between the natural and the normative. We propose that the theory of autopoiesis can be used for bridging this gap, and, so, we incorporate autopoiesis into the framework of dynamical systems theory in order to ground a physicalist theory of normativity. Within this framework, (...)
  47. Pragmatism, Normativity and Naturalism.Henry Jackman - manuscript
    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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