Mind 126 (501):155-193 (2017)

Alex Worsnip
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
John Pittard
Yale University
We offer a new argument in favour of metanormative contextualism, the thesis that the semantic value of a normative ‘ought’ claim of the form ‘ S ought to Φ’ depends on the value of one or more parameters whose values vary in a way that is determined by the context of utterance. The debate over this contextualist thesis has centred on cases that involve ‘ought’ claims made in the face of uncertainty regarding certain descriptive facts. Contextualists, relativists, and invariantists all have plausible ways of explaining these cases, and one could reasonably judge the debate between these views to be a stalemate. We argue that this stalemate can be broken by shifting focus to a case that involves normative uncertainty rather than descriptive uncertainty. While relativist and invariantist rivals of contextualism can give plausible accounts of the descriptive uncertainty cases, only contextualism can provide a plausible account of the normative uncertainty case.
Keywords Metanormative contextualism  Normative uncertainty  Metaethical contextualism  'Ought'-contextualism  Deontic modals  Relativism  Contextualism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/mind/fzv208
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 50,447
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Rational Moral Ignorance.Zach Barnett - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Epistemic Contextualism: A Normative Approach.Robin McKenna - 2013 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 94 (1):101-123.
Contextualism, Relativism and Ordinary Speakers' Judgments.Martin Montminy - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 143 (3):341 - 356.
Standard Contextualism Strikes Back.I. Yanovich - 2013 - Journal of Semantics (1):ffs022.
Contextualism About 'Might' and Says-That Ascriptions.David Braun - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (2):485-511.
Virtues, Social Roles, and Contextualism.Sarah Wright - 2010 - Metaphilosophy 41 (1-2):95-114.
Contextualism and Semantic Ascent.Michael Veber - 2004 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 42 (2):261-272.
Contextualism: An Explanation and Defense.Keith DeRose - 1998 - In J. Greco & E. Sosa (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to Epistemology. Blackwell. pp. 187--205.


Added to PP index

Total views
465 ( #12,244 of 2,326,342 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
7 ( #104,722 of 2,326,342 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes