Responding to Normativity

In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Volume 2. Clarendon Press. pp. 220--39 (2007)
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Abstract

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 it results from such aiming; hence all voluntary behaviour is produced by desire. Full-blooded responses to normativity, I then argue, are voluntary actions: motivation to act arises voluntarily from perception of reasons to act. This fits the desire-based model of normativity but not its rivals. However this argument concludes merely that our responses to normativity are desire-based. I end with some observations about how I think we can bridge the gap from the nature of response to normativity to the nature of normativity itself.

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Stephen Finlay
Australian Catholic University

References found in this work

What we owe to each other.Thomas Scanlon - 1998 - Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
The moral problem.Michael Smith - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
Intention.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1957 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
The sources of normativity.Christine M. Korsgaard - 1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Onora O'Neill.
A Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40).David Hume - 1969 - Mineola, N.Y.: Oxford University Press. Edited by Ernest Campbell Mossner.

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