Kiesewetter defends the normativity of rationality by presenting a new solution to the problems that arise from the common assumption that we ought to be rational. He provides a defence of a reason-response conception of rationality, an evidence-relative account of reason, and an explanation of structural irrationality in relation to these accounts.
Normative requirements are often overlooked, but they are central features of the normative world. Rationality is often thought to consist in acting for reasons, but following normative requirements is also a major part of rationality. In particular, correct reasoning – both theoretical and practical – is governed by normative requirements rather than by reasons. This article explains the nature of normative requirements, and gives examples of their importance. It also describes mistakes that philosophers have made as a result of confusing (...) normative requirements with reasons. (shrink)
What are our duties or rights? How should we act? What are we responsible for? Joseph Raz examines the philosophical issues underlying these everyday questions. He explores the nature of normativity--the reasoning behind certain beliefs and emotions about how we should behave--and offers a novel account of responsibility.
In Norms in the Wild, distinguished philosopher Cristina Bicchieri argues that when it comes to human behavior, social scientists place too much stress on rational deliberation. In fact, she says, many choices occur without much deliberation at all. Two people passing in a corridor automatically negotiate their shared space; cars at an intersection obey traffic signals; we choose clothing based on our instincts for what is considered appropriate. Bicchieri's theory of social norms accounts for these automatic components of coordination, where (...) individuals react automatically to cues that focus their attention on what the norm is in that situation. Social norms thus act as rules for making choices in a social world where people expect others -- often unconsciously -- to follow the same rule. Some norms enable seamless social co-operation, while others are less beneficial to human flourishing.Bicchieri is famous for her interdisciplinary work on game theory and most recently her work on social norms, and Norms in the Wild represents her latest challenge to many of the fundamental assumptions of the social sciences. Bicchieri's work has broad implications not only for understanding human behavior, but for changing it for better outcomes. People have a strongly conditioned preference for following social norms, but that also means that manipulating their expectations can cause major behavioral changes. Bicchieri has been working recently with UNICEF and other NGO's to explore the applicability of her views to issues of human rights around the world. Is it possible to change social expectations around forced marriage, genital mutilations, and public health practices like vaccinations and sanitation? If so, how? What tools might we use? This short book explores how social norms work, and how changing them - changing preferences, beliefs, and especially social expectations - can potentially improve lives all around the world. It will appeal to an unusually broad range of readers including philosophers, psychologists and others in behavioral sciences, and anyone involved in public policy or at NGOs. (shrink)
Norms are a pervasive yet mysterious feature of social life. In Explaining Norms, four philosophers and social scientists team up to grapple with some of the many mysteries, offering a comprehensive account of norms: what they are; how and why they emerge, persist and change; and how they work.
Normative Externalism argues that it is not important that people live up to their own principles. What matters, in both ethics and epistemology, is that they live up to the correct principles: that they do the right thing, and that they believe rationally. This stance, that what matters are the correct principles, not one's own principles, has implications across ethics and epistemology. In ethics, it undermines the ideas that moral uncertainty should be treated just like factual uncertainty, that moral ignorance (...) frequently excuses moral wrongdoing, and that hypocrisy is a vice. In epistemology, it suggests we need new treatments of higher-order evidence, and of peer disagreement, and of circular reasoning, and the book suggests new approaches to each of these problems. Although the debates in ethics and in epistemology are often conducted separately, putting them in one place helps bring out their common themes. One common theme is that the view that one should live up to one's own principles looks less attractive when people have terrible principles, or when following their own principles would lead to riskier or more aggressive action than the correct principles. Another common theme is that asking people to live up to their principles leads to regresses. It can be hard to know what action or belief complies with one's principles. And now we can ask, in such a case should a person do what they think their principles require, or what their principles actually require? Both answers lead to problems, and the best way to avoid these problems is to simply say people should follow the correct principles. (shrink)
This paper investigates whether different philosophers’ claims about “normativity” are about the same subject or (as recently argued by Derek Parfit) theorists who appear to disagree are really using the term with different meanings, in order to cast disambiguating light on the debates over at least the nature, existence, extension, and analyzability of normativity. While I suggest the term may be multiply ambiguous, I also find reasons for optimism about a common subject-matter for metanormative theory. This is supported (...) partly by sketching a special kind of hybrid view of normative judgment, perspectivism, that occupies a position between cognitivism and noncognitivism, naturalism and nonnaturalism, objectivism and subjectivism, making it more plausible that radically different metanormative theories could be about the same thing. I explore three main fissures: between (i) the “normativity” of language/thought versus that of facts and properties, (ii) abstract versus substantive senses, and (iii) formal versus robust senses. (shrink)
Sometimes our intentions and beliefs exhibit a structure that proves us to be irrational. This dissertation is concerned with the question of whether we ought (or have at least good reason) to avoid such irrationality. The thesis defends the normativity of rationality by presenting a new solution to the problems that arise from the common assumption that we ought to be rational. The argument touches upon many other topics in the theory of normativity, such as the form and (...) the content of rational standards or requirements, the preconditions of criti¬cism, and the function of reasons in deliberation and advice. Over and above an exten¬sive assessment of the problems discussed in the literature, the thesis provides a detailed defence of a reason-response conception of rationality, a novel, evidence-relative account of reasons, and an explanation of structural irrationality in terms of these accounts. (shrink)
What is the normative role of knowledge? I argue that knowledge plays an important role as a norm of assertion and action, which is explained and unified by its more fundamental role as a norm of belief. Moreover, I propose a distinctive account of what this normative role consists in. I argue that knowledge is the aim of belief, which sets a normative standard of correctness and a corresponding normative standard of justification. According to my proposal, it is correct to (...) believe, assert and act on a proposition if and only if one is in a position to know it, but one has justification to believe, assert and act on a proposition if and only if one has justification to believe that one is in a position to know it. (shrink)
Normative explanations of why things are wrong, good, or unfair are ubiquitous in ordinary practice and normative theory. This paper argues that normative explanation is subject to a justification condition: a correct complete explanation of why a normative fact holds must identify features that would go at least some way towards justifying certain actions or attitudes. I first explain and motivate the condition I propose. I then support it by arguing that it fits well with various theories of normative reasons, (...) makes good sense of certain legitimate moves in ordinary normative explanatory discourse, and helps to make sense of our judgments about explanatory priority in certain cases of normative explanation. This last argument also helps to highlight respects in which normative explanation won’t be worryingly discontinuous with explanations in other domains even though these other explanations aren’t subject to the justification condition. Thus the paper aims not only to do some constructive theorizing about the relatively neglected topic of normative explanation but also to cast light on the broader question of how normative explanation may be similar to and different from explanations in other domains. (shrink)
This chapter offers an analysis of the authoritatively normative concept PRACTICAL OUGHT that appeals to the constitutive norms for the activity of non-arbitrary selection. It argues that this analysis permits an attractive and substantive explanation of what the distinctive normative authority of this concept amounts to, while also explaining why a clear statement of what such authority amounts to has been so elusive in the recent literature. The account given is contrasted with more familiar constitutivist theories, and briefly shows how (...) it answers “schmagency”-style objections to constitutivist explanations of normativity. Finally, the chapter explains how the account offered here can help realists, error theorist, and fictionalists address central challenges to their views. (shrink)
Political theory is contextualist when factual claims about context are part of the justification of normative political judgments. There are different kinds of contextualism depending on whether context is relevant for the formulation and justification of political principles, whether principles themselves are contextually specific, or whether context is only relevant for the application of principles. An important challenge to contextualism is the problem of critical distance: how can theories ensure a critical perspective if facts about the context to be evaluated (...) are also part of the justification for the normative judgments? Tariq Modood and Simon Thompson have defended what they call iterative contextualism, which combines elements of all three kinds of contextualism in an attempt to avoid the problem of critical distance. The present paper discusses Modood and Thompson’s iterative contextualism and whether it manages to avoid the problem of critical distance. (shrink)
Since Boorse [Philos Sci 44:542–573, 1977] published his paper “Health as a theoretical concept” one of the most lively debates within philosophy of medicine has been on the question of whether health and disease are in some sense ‘objective’ and ‘value-free’ or ‘subjective’ and ‘value-laden’. Due to the apparent ‘failure’ of pure naturalist, constructivist, or normativist accounts, much in the recent literature has appealed to more conciliatory approaches or so-called ‘hybrid accounts’ of health and disease. A recent paper by Matthewson (...) and Griffiths [J Med Philos 42:447–466, 2017], however, may bear the seeds for the revival of purely naturalist approach to health and disease. In this paper, I defend their idea of Biological Normativity against recent criticism by Schwartz [J Med Philos Forum Bioethics Philos Med 42:485–502, 2017] and hope to help it flower into a revival of naturalist approaches in the philosophy of medicine. (shrink)
It is very common these days to come across the claim that the notions of mental content and linguistic meaning are normative notions. In the work of many philosophers, it plays a pivotal role. Saul Kripke made it the centerpiece of his influential discussion of Wittgenstein’s treatment of rulefollowing and private language; he used it to argue that the notions of meaning and content cannot be understood in naturalistic terms. Kripke’s formulations tend to be in terms of the notion of (...) linguistic meaning, but his argumentative strategy makes it clear that he holds both versions of the claim.... (shrink)
A growing body of research has examined how people judge the persistence of identity over time—that is, how they decide that a particular individual is the same entity from one time to the next. While a great deal of progress has been made in understanding the types of features that people typically consider when making such judgments, to date, existing work has not explored how these judgments may be shaped by normative considerations. The present studies demonstrate that normative beliefs do (...) appear to play an important role in people's beliefs about persistence. Specifically, people are more likely to judge that the identity of a given entity remains the same when its features improve than when its features deteriorate. Study 1 provides a basic demonstration of this effect. Study 2 shows that this effect is moderated by individual differences in normative beliefs. Study 3 examines the underlying mechanism, which is the belief that, in general, various entities are essentially good. Study 4 directly manipulates beliefs about essence to show that the positivity bias regarding essences is causally responsible for the effect. (shrink)
John Gibbons presents an original account of epistemic normativity. Belief seems to come with a built-in set of standards or norms. One task is to say where these standards come from. But the more basic task is to say what those standards are. In some sense, beliefs are supposed to be true. Perhaps they’re supposed to constitute knowledge. And in some sense, they really ought to be reasonable. Which, if any of these is the fundamental norm of belief? The (...) book argues against the teleological or instrumentalist conception of rationality that sees being reasonable as a means to our more objective aims, either knowledge or truth. And it tries to explain both the norms of knowledge and of truth in terms of the fundamental norm, the one that tells you to be reasonable. The importance of being reasonable is not explained in terms of what it will get you, or what you think it will get you, or what it would get you if only things were different. The requirement to be reasonable comes from the very idea of what a genuine requirement is. That’s where the built-in standards governing belief come from, and that’s what they are. (shrink)
Everyone agrees that not all norms that govern belief and assertion are epistemic. But not enough attention has been paid to distinguishing epistemic norms from others. Norms in general differ from merely evaluative standards in virtue of the fact that it is fitting to hold subjects accountable for violating them, provided they lack an excuse. Different kinds of norm are most readily distinguished by their distinctive mode of accountability. My thesis is roughly that a norm is epistemic if and only (...) if its violation makes it fitting to reduce epistemic trust in the subject, even if there is no doubt about their sincerity, honesty, or other moral virtues. That is, violations of epistemic norms don’t merit resentment or other forms of blame, but rather deduction of credibility points in internal scorekeeping and related attitudinal and behavioral changes. As Fricker’s work on epistemic injustice shows, such distrust is undesirable from the point of view of an epistemic agent. Consequently, when one manifests epistemic distrust towards a subject in suitable circumstances, it amounts a way of holding her accountable. Since this form of accountability involves no opprobrium, there is good reason to think it is not linked to voluntary control in the same way as moral accountability. Finally, I make use of this account of what makes epistemic norms distinctive to point out some faulty diagnostics in debates about norms of assertion. My aim is not to defend any substantive view, however, but only to offer tools for identifying the right kind of evidence for epistemic norms. (shrink)
It has been claimed that the recent wave of neuroscientific research into the physiological underpinnings of our moral intuitions has normative implications. In particular, it has been claimed that this research discredits our deontological intuitions about cases, without discrediting our consequentialist intuitions about cases. In this paper I demur. I argue that such attempts to extract normative conclusions from neuroscientific research face a fundamental dilemma: either they focus on the emotional or evolved nature of the psychological processes underlying deontological intuitions, (...) in which case the arguments rely on a blatantly fallacious inference, or they appeal to the (alleged) moral irrelevance of the factors to which deontological intuitions respond, in which case the neuroscientific results end up playing no role in the overall argument. (shrink)
Suppose that two competing norms, N1 and N2, can be identified such that a given person’s response can be interpreted as correct according to N1 but incorrect according to N2. Which of these two norms, if any, should one use to interpret such a response? In this paper we seek to address this fundamental problem by studying individual variation in the interpretation of conditionals by establishing individual profiles of the participants based on their case judgments and reflective attitudes. To investigate (...) the participants’ reflective attitudes we introduce a new experimental paradigm called the Scorekeeping Task. As a case study, we identify the participants who follow the Suppositional Theory of conditionals (N1) versus Inferentialism (N2) and investigate to what extent internally consistent competence models can be reconstructed for the participants on this basis. After extensive empirical investigations, an apparent reasoning error with and-to-if inferences was found in one of these two groups. The implications of this case study for debates on the proper role of normative considerations in psychology are discussed. (shrink)
Why do promises give rise to reasons? I consider a quadruple of possibilities which I think will not work, then sketch the explanation of the normativity of promising I find more plausible—that it is constitutive of the practice of promising that promise-breaking implies liability for blame and that we take liability for blame to be a bad thing. This effects a reduction of the normativity of promising to conventionalism about liability together with instrumental normativity and desire-based reasons. (...) This is important for a number of reasons, but the most important reason is that this style of account can be extended to account for nearly all normativity—one notable exception being instrumental normativity itself. Success in the case of promises suggests a general reduction of normativity to conventions and instrumental normativity. But success in the cases of promises is already quite interesting and does not depend essentially the general claim about normativity. (shrink)
The concepts we use to value and prescribe are historically contingent, and we could have found ourselves with others. But what does it mean to say that some concepts are better than others for purposes of action-guiding and deliberation? What is it to choose between different normative conceptual frameworks?
Encyclopedia entry covering the growing literature on the Knowledge Norm of Assertion (and its rivals), the Knowledge Norm of Action (and pragmatic encroachment), the Knowledge Norm of Belief, and the Knowledge Norm of Disagreement.
I describe and defend the view in a philosophy of mind that I call 'Normative Essentialism', according to which propositional attitudes have normative essences. Those normative essences are 'horizontal' rational requirements, by which I mean the requirement to have certain propositional attitudes given other propositional attitudes. Different propositional attitudes impose different horizontal rational requirements. I distinguish a stronger and a weaker version of this doctrine and argue for the weaker version. I explore the consequences for knowledge of mind, and I (...) then consider objections to the view from mental causation, from empirical psychology, and from animals and small children. (shrink)
Philosophical theories often hinge on claims about what is necessary or possible. But what are possibilities and necessities, and how could we come to know about them? This book aims to help demystify the methodology of philosophy, by treating such claims not as attempted descriptions of strange facts or distant 'possible worlds', but rather as ways of expressing rules or norms.
Our primary aim in this paper is to sketch a cognitive evolutionary approach for developing explanations of social change that is anchored on the psychological mechanisms underlying normative cognition and the transmission of social norms. We throw the relevant features of this approach into relief by comparing it with the self-fulfilling social expectations account developed by Bicchieri and colleagues. After describing both accounts, we argue that the two approaches are largely compatible, but that the cognitive evolutionary approach is well- suited (...) to encompass much of the social expectations view, whose focus on a narrow range of norms comes at the expense of the breadth the cognitive evolutionary approach can provide. (shrink)
In this paper, I enter the debate between those who hold that our normative uncertainty matters for what we ought to do, and those who hold that only our descriptive uncertainty matters. I argue that existing views in both camps have unacceptable implications in cases where our descriptive beliefs depend on our normative beliefs. I go on to propose a fix which is available only to those who hold that normative uncertainty matters, ultimately leaving the challenge as a threat to (...) recent skepticism about such views. (shrink)
I argue that normative formal epistemology (NFE) is best understood as modelling, in the sense that this is the reconstruction of its methodology on which NFE is doing best. I focus on Bayesianism and show that it has the characteristics of modelling. But modelling is a scientific enterprise, while NFE is normative. I thus develop an account of normative models on which they are idealised representations put to normative purposes. Normative assumptions, such as the transitivity of comparative credence, are characterised (...) as modelling idealisations motivated normatively. I then survey the landscape of methodological options: what might formal epistemologists be up to? I argue the choice is essentially binary: modelling or theorising. If NFE is theorising it is doing very poorly: generating false claims with no clear methodology for separating out what is to be taken seriously. Modelling, by contrast, is a successful methodology precisely suited to the management of useful falsehoods. Regarding NFE as modelling is not costless, however. First, our normative inferences are less direct and are muddied by the presence of descriptive idealisations. Second, our models are purpose-specific and limited in their scope. I close with suggestions for how to adapt our practice. (shrink)
Logical pluralism is the view that there is more than one correct logic. This very general characterization gives rise to a whole family of positions. I argue that not all of them are stable. The main argument in the paper is inspired by considerations known as the “collapse problem”, and it aims at the most popular form of logical pluralism advocated by JC Beall and Greg Restall. I argue that there is a more general argument available that challenges all variants (...) of logical pluralism that meet the following three conditions: that there are at least two correct logical systems characterized in terms of different consequence relations, that there is some sort of rivalry among the correct logics, and that logical consequence is normative. The hypothesis I argue for amounts to conditional claim: If a position satisfies all these conditions, then that position is unstable in the sense that it collapses into competing positions. (shrink)
Steven Crowell has been for many years a leading voice in debates on twentieth-century European philosophy. This volume presents thirteen recent essays that together provide a systematic account of the relation between meaningful experience and responsiveness to norms. They argue for a new understanding of the philosophical importance of phenomenology, taking the work of Husserl and Heidegger as exemplary, and introducing a conception of phenomenology broad enough to encompass the practices of both philosophers. Crowell discusses Husserl's analyses of first-person authority, (...) the semantics of conscious experience, the structure of perceptual content, and the embodied subject, and shows how Heidegger's interpretation of the self addresses problems in Husserl's approach to the normative structure of meaning. His volume will be valuable for upper-level students and scholars interested in phenomenological approaches to philosophical questions in both the European and the analytic traditions. (shrink)
Normativity and the Will collects fourteen important papers on moral psychology and practical reason by R. Jay Wallace, one of the leading philosophers currently working in these areas. The papers explore the interpenetration of normative and psychological issues in a series of debates that lie at the heart of moral philosophy. Themes that are addressed include reason, desire, and the will; responsibility, identification, and emotion; and the relation between morality and other normative domains. Wallace's treatments of these topics are (...) at once sophisticated and engaging. Taken together, they constitute an advertisement for a distinctive way of pursuing issues in moral psychology and the theory of practical reason, and they articulate and defend a unified framework for thinking about those issues. The volume also features a helpful new introduction. (shrink)
This paper considers normative naturalism, understood as the view that (i) normative sentences are descriptive of the way things are, and (ii) their truth/falsity does not require ontology beyond the ontology of the natural world. Assuming (i) for the sake of argument, I here show that (ii) is false not only as applied to ethics, but more generally as applied to practical and epistemic normativity across the board. The argument is a descendant of Moore's Open Question Argument and Hume's (...) Is-Ought Gap. It goes roughly as follows: to ensure that natural ontology suffices for normative truth, there must be semantically grounded entailments from the natural truths to the normative truths. There are none. So natural ontology does not suffice for normative truth. (shrink)
This is a survey of recent debates concerning the normativity of belief. We explain what the thesis that belief is normative involves, consider arguments for and against that thesis, and explore its bearing on debates in metaethics.
This paper offers an analysis of the authoritatively normative concept PRACTICAL OUGHT that appeals to the constitutive norms for the activity of non-arbitrary selection. I argue that this analysis permits an attractive and substantive explanation of what the distinctive normative authority of this concept amounts to. I contrast my account with more familiar constitutivist theories, and briefly show how it answers ‘schmagency’-style objections to constitutivist explanations of normativity. Finally, I explain how the account offered here can be used to (...) help realists, error theorist, and fictionalists address central challenges to their views. (shrink)
Moral claims not only purport to be true, they also purport to guide our choices. This book presents a new theory of normative judgment, the "standard-based theory," which offers a schematic account of the truth conditions of normative propositions of all kinds, including moral propositions and propositions about reasons. The heart of Copp 's approach to moral propositions is a theory of the circumstances under which corresponding moral standards qualify as justified, the " society -centered theory." He argues that because (...) any society needs a social moral code in order to enable its members to live together successfully, and because it would be rational for a society to choose such a code, certain moral codes, and the standards they include, are justified. According to the standard-based theory then, if certain moral standards are indeed justified, corresponding moral propositions may be true. Copp 's approach to morality and explaining normativity and the truth conditions of moral claims, raises a number of important issues in moral theory, as well as in metaphysics and the philosophy of language. (shrink)
We typically have to act under uncertainty. We can be uncertain about the relevant descriptive facts, but also about the relevant normative facts. However, the search for a theory of decision-making under normative uncertainty is doomed to failure. First, the most natural proposal for what to do given normative uncertainty faces two devastating problems. Second, the motivations for wanting a theory of what to do given descriptive uncertainty do not carry over to normative uncertainty. Descriptive facts may be inaccessible even (...) in principle, and ignorance of them excuses one from blame, but normative facts are in principle accessible, and ignorance of them arguably is no excuse. Normative facts differ from descriptive facts: normative facts affect what we ought to do no matter what, while descriptive facts affect what we ought to do only insofar as we are aware of them. (shrink)
People more frequently select norm-violating factors, relative to norm- conforming ones, as the cause of some outcome. Until recently, this abnormal-selection effect has been studied using retrospective vignette-based paradigms. We use a novel set of video stimuli to investigate this effect for prospective causal judgments—i.e., judgments about the cause of some future outcome. Four experiments show that people more frequently select norm- violating factors, relative to norm-conforming ones, as the cause of some future outcome. We show that the abnormal-selection effects (...) are not primarily explained by the perception of agency (Experiment 4). We discuss these results in relation to recent efforts to model causal judgment. (shrink)
Many have been attracted to the idea that for something to be good there just have to be reasons to favour it. This view has come to be known as the buck-passing account of value. According to this account, for pleasure to be good there need to be reasons for us to desire and pursue it. Likewise for liberty and equality to be values there have to be reasons for us to promote and preserve them. Extensive discussion has focussed on (...) some of the problems that the buck-passing account faces, such as the 'wrong kind of reason' problem. Less attention, however, has been paid as to why we should accept the buck-passing account or what the theoretical pay-offs and other implications of accepting it are. The Normative and the Evaluative provides the first comprehensive motivation and defence of the buck-passing account of value. Richard Rowland argues that the buck-passing account explains several important features of the relationship between reasons and value, as well as the relationship between the different varieties of value, in a way that its competitors do not. He shows that alternatives to the buck-passing account are inconsistent with important views in normative ethics, uninformative, and at odds with the way in which we should see practical and epistemic normativity as related. In addition, he extends the buck-passing account to provide an account of moral properties as well as all other normative and deontic properties and concepts, such as fittingness and ought, in terms of reasons. (shrink)
Does transparency in doxastic deliberation entail a constitutive norm of correctness governing belief, as Shah and Velleman argue? No, because this presupposes an implausibly strong relation between normative judgements and motivation from such judgements, ignores our interest in truth, and cannot explain why we pay different attention to how much justification we have for our beliefs in different contexts. An alternative account of transparency is available: transparency can be explained by the aim one necessarily adopts in deliberating about whether to (...) believe that p. To show this, I reconsider the role of the concept of belief in doxastic deliberation, and I defuse 'the teleologian's dilemma'. (shrink)
Living agency is subject to a normative dimension (good-bad, adaptive-maladaptive) that is absent from other types of interaction. We review current and historical attempts to naturalize normativity from an organism-centered perspective, identifying two central problems and their solution: (1) How to define the topology of the viability space so as to include a sense of gradation that permits reversible failure, and (2) how to relate both the processes that establish norms and those that result in norm-following behavior. We present (...) a minimal metabolic system that is coupled to a gradient-climbing chemotactic mechanism. Studying the relationship between metabolic dynamics and environmental resource conditions, we identify an emergent viable region and a precarious region where the system tends to die unless environmental conditions change. We introduce the concept of normative field as the change of environmental conditions required to bring the system back to its viable region. Norm-following, or normative action, is defined as the course of behavior whose effect is positively correlated with the normative field. We close with a discussion of the limitations and extensions of our model and some final reflections on the nature of norms and teleology in agency. (shrink)
Assertions are speech acts by means of which we express beliefs. As such they are at the heart of our linguistic and social practices. Recent research has focused extensively on the question whether the speech act of assertion is governed by norms, and if so, under what conditions it is acceptable to make an assertion. Standard theories propose, for instance, that one should only assert that p if one knows that p (the knowledge account), or that one should only assert (...) that p if p is true (the truth account). In a series of four experiments, this question is addressed empirically. Contrary to previous findings, knowledge turns out to be a poor predictor of assertability, and the norm of assertion is not factive either. The studies here presented provide empirical evidence in favour of the view that a speaker is warranted to assert that p only if her belief that p is justified. (shrink)
In recent years, the philosophy and psychology of reasoning have made a ‘social turn’: in both disciplines it is now common to reject the traditional picture of reasoning as a solitary intellectual exercise in favour of the idea that reasoning is a social activity driven by social aims. According to the most prominent social account, Mercier and Sperber’s interactionist theory, this implies that reasoning is not a normative activity. As they argue, in producing reasons we are not trying to ‘get (...) things right’; instead our aims are to justify ourselves and persuade others to accept our views. I will argue that even if interactionism has played a crucial role in bringing about the ‘social turn’ in our thinking about reasoning, it does not convince in its claim that reasoning is not a normative activity. Moreover, I argue that it is in fact perfectly possible to understand reasoning as a social tool that is also aimed at getting things right. I will propose that Gilbert Ryle’s conceptualization of reasoning as ‘didactic discourse’ offers one possible way to understand reasoning as both social and normative activity, and that as such his ideas could be of great value for the social turn in our thinking about reasoning. (shrink)
This paper criticizes two accounts of the normativity of practical principles: the empiricist account and the rationalist or realist account. It argues against the empiricist view, focusing on the Humean texts that are usually taken to be its locus classicus. It then argues both against the dogmatic rationalist view, and for the Kantian view, through a discussion of Kant's own remarks about instrumental rationality in the second section of the Groundwork. It further argues that the instrumental principle cannot stand (...) alone. Unless there are normative principles directing us to the adoption of certain ends, there can be no requirement to take the means to our ends. The familiar view that the instrumental principle is the only requirement of practical reason is incoherent. (shrink)
This book is about the norms of the speech act of assertion. This is a topic of lively contemporary debate primarily carried out in epistemology and philosophy of language. Suppose that you ask me what time an upcoming meeting starts, and I say, “4 p.m.” I’ve just asserted that the meeting starts at 4 p.m. Whenever we make claims like this, we’re asserting. The central question here is whether we need to know what we say, and, relatedly, whether what we (...) assert must be true. If the meeting is really at 3:30 p.m., you’ll be late, and probably rather upset that I told you the wrong time. In some sense, it seems like I’m on the hook for having said something false. This sense that I’ve done something wrong suggests that there are certain standards of evaluating assertions: a way of distinguishing between good and bad, appropriate and inappropriate. We call these standards norms. And so the debate about what, if any, norms govern the linguistic practice of assertion is known as the norms of assertion debate. When one’s assertion satisfies the norm, we say that the assertion is warranted. -/- Various philosophers have typically focused their views of the norms of assertion on articulating the level of epistemic support required for properly asserting. Some argue, for example, that one must know what one asserts. Others argue that one merely needs to justifiably believe what one asserts–an epistemic standing weaker than knowledge. The purpose of this book is to defend what I propose as the central norm governing our practice of assertion, which I call the Supportive Reasons Norm. Here’s what it looks like: -/- One may assert that p only if: One has supportive reasons for p, The relevant conventional and pragmatic elements of the context are present, and One asserts that p at least in part because the assertion that p satisfies and. -/- In rough outline, the standards for warrantedly asserting shift with changes in context, although knowledge is never required for warrantedly asserting. In fact, in some special contexts, speakers may warrantedly lie. This latter feature particularly sets apart my view from others in the debate. This also means that truth, knowledge, and even belief aren’t necessary conditions for warrantedly asserting. (shrink)
To answer tantalizing questions such as whether animals are moral or how morality evolved, I propose starting with a somewhat less fraught question: do animals have normative cognition? Recent psychological research suggests that normative thinking, or ought-thought, begins early in human development. Recent philosophical research suggests that folk psychology is grounded in normative thought. Recent primatology research finds evidence of sophisticated cultural and social learning capacities in great apes. Drawing on these three literatures, I argue that the human variety of (...) social cognition and moral cognition encompass the same cognitive capacities and that the nonhuman great apes may also be normative beings. To make this argument, I develop an account of animal social norms that shares key properties with Cristina Bicchieri's account of social norms but which lowers the cognitive requirements for having a social norm. I propose a set of four early developing prerequisites implicated in social cognition that make up what I call naïve normativity: the ability to identify agents, sensitivity to in-group/out-group differences, the capacity for social learning of group traditions, and responsiveness to appropriateness. I review the ape cognition literature and present preliminary empirical evidence supporting the existence of social norms and naïve normativity in great apes. While there is more empirical work to be done, I hope to have offered a framework for studying normativity in other species, and I conclude that we should be open to the possibility that normative cognition is yet another ancient cognitive endowment that is not human-unique. (shrink)
In this paper, I defend a new theory of normative reasons called reasons as good bases, according to which a normative reason to φ is something that is a good basis for φing. The idea is that the grounds on which we do things—bases—can be better or worse as things of their kind, and a normative reason—a good reason—is something that is just a good instance of such a ground. After introducing RGB, I clarify what it is to be a (...) good basis, and argue that RGB has various attractive features: it has intuitive implications, makes good sense of the weights of reasons, and attractively explains the relationship between normative reasons and motivating reasons. I then briefly defend the view from objections and compare it to rivals. Finally, I sketch two possible implications of RGB: some kind of constitutivism, according to which the norms that govern us are explained by the nature of agency, and second, the claim that agents who do things for reasons generally do them for good reasons. (shrink)
Norms—that is, specifications of what we ought to do—play a critical role in the study of informal argumentation, as they do in studies of judgment, decision-making and reasoning more generally. Specifically, they guide a recurring theme: are people rational? Though rules and standards have been central to the study of reasoning, and behavior more generally, there has been little discussion within psychology about why (or indeed if) they should be considered normative despite the considerable philosophical literature that bears on this (...) topic. In the current paper, we ask what makes something a norm, with consideration both of norms in general and a specific example: norms for informal argumentation. We conclude that it is both possible and desirable to invoke norms for rational argument, and that a Bayesian approach provides solid normative principles with which to do so. (shrink)