Explanatory Pluralism in Normative Ethics

Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Some theorists of normative explanation argue that we can make sense of debates between first-order moral theories such as consequentialism and its rivals only if we understand their explanations of why the right acts are right and the wrong acts are wrong as generative (e.g. grounding) explanations. Others argue that the standard form of normative explanation is, instead, some kind of unification. Neither sort of explanatory monism can account for all the explanations of particular moral facts that moral theorists seek to state and defend. This paper argues that we can do better if we accept normative explanatory pluralism, the view that at least some particular explananda in normative inquiry have more than one type of correct complete explanation. Such pluralism is supported by what goes on in actual moral inquiry, parallels an independently plausible form of pluralism about scientific explanation, and can offer principled responses to central objections.

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Pekka Väyrynen
University of Leeds

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References found in this work

Depth: An Account of Scientific Explanation.Michael Strevens - 2008 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Guide to Ground.Kit Fine - 2012 - In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical grounding: understanding the structure of reality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 37--80.
Against Grounding Necessitarianism.Alexander Skiles - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (4):717-751.
Explanatory unification and the causal structure of the world.Philip Kitcher - 1962 - In Philip Kitcher & Wesley C. Salmon (eds.), Scientific Explanation. Univ of Minnesota Pr. pp. 410-505.

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