Do normative facts need to explain?

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (3):246–272 (2000)

Abstract

Much moral skepticism stems from the charge that moral facts do not figure in causal explanations. However, philosophers committed to normative epistemological discourse (by which I mean our practice of evaluating beliefs as justified or unjustified, and so forth) are in no position to demand that normative facts serve such a role, since epistemic facts are causally impotent as well. I argue instead that pragmatic reasons can justify our continued participation in practices which, like morality and epistemology, do not serve the function of causal explanation. Finally, I defend this pragmatic justification of morality and epistemology against a number of objections, including the objection that it confuses practical and theoretical justification.

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Jeremy Koons
Georgetown University

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