What's in an Aim?

Oxford Studies in Metaethics 17:138-165 (2022)
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Metaethical constitutivists seek to ground normativity in facts about what is constitutive of agency. One strand of constitutivism locates the foundations of normativity in constitutive aims, which are standardly conceived of in teleological terms. I present three challenges that show that the teleological conception of constitutive aims is inadequate for the constitutivist project. I then sketch an alternative conception of constitutive aims in the form of a commitment-based conception. On the commitment-based conception, actions and attitudes constitutively represent their objects as having certain properties, and their constitutive aims are fixed by the accuracy-conditions of these representations. Because such representations constitutively involve a commitment on the part of the agent to the object’s having the relevant property, they generate authoritative norms for the agent. I conclude that, unlike the teleological conception, the commitment-based conception promises to yield a unified constitutivism that delivers authoritative normative standards for both actions and attitudes.



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Author's Profile

Keshav Singh
University of Alabama, Birmingham

Citations of this work

Belief as Commitment to the Truth.Keshav Singh - forthcoming - In Eric Schwitzgebel & Jonathan Jong (eds.), The Nature of Belief. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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References found in this work

Mere formalities: fictional normativity and normative authority.Daniel Wodak - 2019 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 49 (6):1-23.
Deciding to believe.B. Williams - 1973 - In Bernard Williams (ed.), Problems of the Self: Philosophical Papers 1956-1972. Cambridge University Press. pp. 136–51.
Teleology and Normativity.Matthew Silverstein - 2016 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 11:214-240.
The Varieties of Normativity.Derek Clayton Baker - 2017 - In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. Routledge. pp. 567-581.
Anscombe on Acting for Reasons.Keshav Singh - 2020 - In Ruth Chang & Kurt Sylvan (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Practical Reason. Routledge.

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