Normative Reasons and Theism

Cham: Palgrave MacMillan (2018)
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Normative reasons are reasons to do and believe things. Intellectual inquiry seems to presuppose their existence, for we cannot justifiably conclude that we exist; that there is an external world; and that there are better and worse ways of investigating it and behaving in it, unless there are reasons to do and believe such things. But just what in the world are normative reasons? In this book a case is made for believing normative reasons are favouring relations that have a single, external source, filling this significant gap in the literature in an area within contemporary philosophy that has quickly grown in prominence. Providing a divine command metanormative analysis of normative reasons on entirely non-religious grounds, its arguments will be relevant to both secular and non-secular audiences alike and will address key issues in meta-ethics, evolutionary theory - especially evolutionary debunking threats to moral reasons and the normative more generally - and epistemology.



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A Miscellany of Objections

I consider a wide variety of objections, including concerns about regresses, authority, ontological extravagance, and supposed threats to normative theorizing. In all cases the objections are shown either to be misguided or question begging.


The divine psychologism defended in this work can be used to make a large number of predictions about the character of the normative aspect to reality. For instance—and without making any substantial normative assumptions—it is possible to predict the existence of epistemic, instrumental and moral r... see more


Euthyphro-style objections to divine analyses of normative concepts are thought by most contemporary philosophers to refute them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Such objections—and I identify four distinct ones—fail to raise any reasonable doubt about the truth of the view defended in this... see more

Mente Divina

Our faculties of reason are not faculties of perception. They are best characterized as kinds of instruction manual on reality that provide us, via rational intuitions, with indirect information about what Reason favours us doing and being. As normative reasons exist indubitably, and as we are indub... see more


There is no evidence that the favoring relations constitutive of normative reasons have oneself as their source. Indeed, the thesis is preposterous once the truth of the unity thesis is acknowledged. All of the evidence—and I provide four pieces —strongly implies that normative reasons have an exter... see more


The favoring relations constitutive of normative reasons have a single, unifying source across us all. This is implied by at least five separate considerations. Both normative disagreement and normative conflict implies that our concept of a normative reason is of a favoring relation that has the sa... see more


All favoring relations must have a mind as their bearer. The idea of a favoring attitude being borne by something non-mental is incoherent, as is the idea of a favoring attitude that lacks any bearer at all. As all normative reasons are favoring relations, then all normative reasons must have a mind... see more


To judge that one has reason to do or believe something is not to judge that one is doing or believing it; nor is it to predict that one will do or believe it; nor is it to judge that one is motivated to do or believe it; nor is it to judge that one is subject to some kind of force or pressure; nor ... see more

The Question

The question is “what are normative reasons, in and of themselves?” The answer is going to be that they are the attitudes a single external mind—a god of sorts—is adopting towards us doing and believing things. However, it is emphasized that what follows is not an attempt to provide rational underpi... see more


I summarize the main argument developed in this work and the fifteen arguments I gave in support of its premises. I go on to describe how the contemporary debate can be said to be characterized by some classic symptoms of normative autism or mind-blindness, ranging from a failure to register the men... see more

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Believable Normative Error Theory.Gerald K. Harrison - 2022 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 8 (2):208-223.

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