Non-Naturalism and Reasons-Firstism: How to Solve the Discontinuity Problem by Reducing Two Queerness Worries to One

The Journal of Ethics 26 (1):131-154 (2022)
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A core tenet of metanormative non-naturalism is that genuine or robust normativity—i.e., the kind of normativity that is characteristic of moral requirements, and perhaps also of prudential, epistemic and even aesthetic requirements—is metaphysically special in a way that rules out naturalist analyses or reductions; on the non-naturalist view, the normative is sui generis and metaphysically discontinuous with the natural. Non-naturalists agree, however, that the normative is modally as well as explanatorily dependent on the natural. These two commitments—discontinuity and dependence—at least initially pull in opposite directions, and one of the central challenges to non-naturalism is how to reconcile them. In this paper I spell out the most pressing version of this discontinuity problem, as I propose to call it, and I go on to offer a novel solution. Drawing on the ideology of reasons-firstism, I formulate an account of normative explanation which reconciles the two commitments, and I argue that competing accounts either do not solve the problem or are implausible on independent grounds.



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Victor Moberger
Umeå University

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