Ethical concepts are, or purport to be, normative. They make claims on us: they command, oblige, recommend, or guide. Or at least when we invoke them, we make claims on one another; but where does their authority over us - or ours over one another - come from? Christine Korsgaard identifies four accounts of the source of normativity that have been advocated by modern moral philosophers: voluntarism, realism, reflective endorsement, and the appeal to autonomy. She traces their history, showing (...) how each developed in response to the prior one and comparing their early versions with those on the contemporary philosophical scene. Kant's theory that normativity springs from our own autonomy emerges as a synthesis of the other three, and Korsgaard concludes with her own version of the Kantian account. Her discussion is followed by commentary from G. A. Cohen, Raymond Geuss, Thomas Nagel, and Bernard Williams, and a reply by Korsgaard. (shrink)
This is a book about normativity -- where the central normative terms are words like 'ought' and 'should' and their equivalents in other languages. It has three parts: The first part is about the semantics of normative discourse: what it means to talk about what ought to be the case. The second part is about the metaphysics of normative properties and relations: what is the nature of those properties and relations whose pattern of instantiation makes propositions about what ought (...) to be the case true. The third part is about the epistemology of normative beliefs: how we could ever know, or even have rational or justified belief in, propositions about what ought to be the case. (shrink)
When we affirm that someone knows something, we are making a value judgment of sorts - we are claiming that there is something superior about that person's opinion, or their evidence, or perhaps about them. A central task of the theory of knowledge is to investigate the sort of evaluation at issue. This is the first book to make 'epistemic normativity,' or the normative dimension of knowledge and knowledge ascriptions, its central focus. John Greco argues that knowledge is a (...) kind of achievement, as opposed to mere lucky success. This locates knowledge within a broader, familiar normative domain. By reflecting on our thinking and practices in this domain, it is argued, we gain insight into what knowledge is and what kind of value it has for us. (shrink)
(1) This paper is about how to build an account of the normativity of logic around the claim that logic is constitutive of thinking. I take the claim that logic is constitutive of thinking to mean that representational activity must tend to conform to logic to count as thinking. (2) I develop a natural line of thought about how to develop the constitutive position into an account of logical normativity by drawing on constitutivism in metaethics. (3) I argue (...) that, while this line of thought provides some insights, it is importantly incomplete, as it is unable to explain why we should think. I consider two attempts at rescuing the line of thought. The first, unsuccessful response is that it is self-defeating to ask why we ought to think. The second response is that we need to think. But this response secures normativity only if thinking has some connection to human flourishing. (4) I argue that thinking is necessary for human flourishing. Logic is normative because it is constitutive of this good. (5) I show that the resulting account deals nicely with problems that vex other accounts of logical normativity. (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.
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)
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.
What is normativity? It is argued here that normativity is best understood as a property of certain concepts: normative thoughts are those involving these normative concepts; normative statements are statements that express normative thoughts; and normative facts are the facts (if such there be) that make such normative thoughts true. Many philosophers propose that there is a single basic normative concept—perhaps the concept of a reason for an action or attitude—in terms of which all other normative concepts can (...) be defined. It is argued here that this proposal faces grave difficulties. According to a better proposal, what these normative concepts have in common is that they have a distinctive sort of conceptual role—a reasoning-guiding conceptual role. This proposal is illustrated by a number of examples: different normative concepts differ from each other in virtue of their having different conceptual roles of this reasoning-guiding kind. (shrink)
In tradition linked to Aristotle and Kant, many contemporary philosophers treat practical and theoretical normativity as two genuinely distinct domains of normativity. In this paper I consider the question of what it is for normative domains to be distinct. I suggest that there are two different ways that the distinctness thesis might be understood and consider the different implications of the two different distinctness theses.
In virtue of what is something a reason for action? That is, what makes a consideration a reason to act? This is a metaphysical or meta-normative question about the grounding of reasons for action. The answer to the grounding question has been traditionally given in ‘pure’, univocal terms. This paper argues that there is good reason to understand the ground of practical normativity as a hybrid of traditional ‘pure’ views. The paper 1) surveys the three leading ‘pure’ answers to (...) the question of a normative ground, 2) examines one or two of the most difficult problems for each, proposing along the way a new objection to one, and 3) argues that a particular hybrid view about normative grounds –‘hybrid voluntarism’ – avoids each of the main problems faced by the three leading ‘pure’ views. (shrink)
The paper pores over the recent conceptions of normative judgement developed against the background of advances in psychology and neuroscience. It begins by analyzing what normative claim of morality and law consists of before presenting and criticizing the Social Intuitionist Model of normative judgement developed by Jonathan Haidt. The model poses serious challenges for well-established normative concepts, and the concept of normativity as objective reason for action in particular. A question is asked of what the relationship between philosophical conceptions (...) and the findings of neuroscience should be. The conclusion is that, in the face of new scientific facts, philosophers have no choice but to carefully revise their conceptual schemes. (shrink)
The concept of agency is of crucial importance in cognitive science and artificial intelligence, and it is often used as an intuitive and rather uncontroversial term, in contrast to more abstract and theoretically heavy-weighted terms like “intentionality”, “rationality” or “mind”. However, most of the available definitions of agency are either too loose or unspecific to allow for a progressive scientific program. They implicitly and unproblematically assume the features that characterize agents, thus obscuring the full potential and challenge of modeling agency. (...) We identify three conditions that a system must meet in order to be considered as a genuine agent: a) a system must define its own individuality, b) it must be the active source of activity in its environment (interactionalasymmetry) and c) it must regulate this activity in relation to certain norms (normativity). We find that even minimal forms of proto-celular systems can already provide a paradigmatic example of genuine agency. By abstracting away some specific details of minimal models of living agency we define the kind of organization that is capable to meet the required conditions for agency (which is not restricted to living organisms). On this basis, we define agency as an autonomous organization that adaptively regulates its coupling with its environment and contributes to sustaining itself as a consequence. We find that spatiality and temporality are the two fundamental domains in which agency spans at different scales. We conclude by giving an outlook to the road that lies ahead in the pursuit to understand, model and synthesis agents. (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)
There are Humeans and unHumeans, disagreeing as to the validity of the Treatise’s ideas regarding practical reason, but not as to their importance. The basic argument here is that the enduring irresolution of their Hume centric debates has been fostered by what can be called the fallacy of normative monism, i.e. a failure to distinguish between two different kinds of normativity: empirical vs. rational. Humeans take the empirical normativity of personal desire to constitute the only real kind, while (...) unHumeans insist that only the objective rationality associated with categorical morality can provide reliable normative guidance. In turn, the failure to recognize the dual nature of normativity has helped engender motivational obscurantism: as essentially causal notions, motive and motivation obscure the rational processes that lie at the heart of deliberation and choice. Once it is realized that normativity takes two different forms, each with its own distinctive role, it becomes possible to mediate if not mitigate the differences between Humeans and unHumeans. Choice will be the key to understanding practical reasoning, and its analysis will provide the basis for a belief/desire model that upends conventional wisdom regarding motivation and desire. (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 investigates two puzzles in practical reason and proposes a solution to them. First, sometimes, when we are practically certain that neither of two alternatives is better than or as good as the other with respect to what matters in the choice between them, it nevertheless seems perfectly rational to continue to deliberate, and sometimes the result of that deliberation is a conclusion that one alternative is better, where there is no error in one’s previous judgment. Second, there are (...) striking differences between rational agents – some rational agents have most reason to pursue careers on Wall Street while others have most reason to take up a career in teaching, or scuba diving, or working for political causes. These differences aren’t plausibly explained by ‘passive’ facts about our psychology or their causal interaction with our environment; instead, these facts seem in some sense to ‘express who we are’. But what is this sense? These puzzles disappear if we adopt a novel view about the source of the normativity of reasons – some reasons are given to us and others are reasons in virtue of an act of will. We make certain considerations reasons through an act of will and thus sometimes make it true through an act of agency that we have most reason to do one thing rather than another. (shrink)
My paper examines the popular idea, defended by Kripke, that meaning is an essentially normative notion. I consider four common versions of this idea and suggest that none of them can be supported, either because the alleged normativity has nothing to do with normativity or because it cannot plausibly be said that meaning is normative in the sense suggested. I argue that contrary to received opinion, we don’t need normativity to secure the possibility of meaning. I conclude (...) by considering the repercussions of rejecting semantic normativity on three central issues: justification, communication, and naturalism. (shrink)
I give a biological account of epistemic normativity. My account explains the sense in which it is true that belief is subject to a standard of correctness, and reduces epistemic norms to there being doxastic strategies which guide how best to meet that standard. Additionally, I give an explanation of the mistakes we make in our epistemic discourse, understood as either taking epistemic properties and norms to be sui generis and irreducible, and/or as failing to recognize the reductive base (...) of epistemic normativity. This explanation will appeal to the claim that the beliefs which constitute our epistemic discourse are false but adaptive, and are the outcome of a non-truth tracking process. The opponents of my position are philosophers who take epistemic normativity not to be reducible in this way, and to involve sui generis properties and norms governing belief. The aim of the paper is to show that epistemic normativity can be explained by appeal to the biological functions of our mechanisms of belief-production. (shrink)
This paper discusses varieties of normative phenomena, ranging from morality, to epistemic justification, to the rules of chess. It canvases a number of distinctions among these different normative phenomena. The most significant distinction is between formal and authoritative normativity. The prior is the normativity exhibited by any standard one can meet or fail to meet. The latter is the sort of normativity associated with phenomena like the "all-things-considered" ought. The paper ends with a brief discussion of reasons (...) for skepticism about authoritative normativity. (shrink)
What I call the Doxastic Puzzle, is the impression that while each of these claims seems true, at least one of them must be false: (a) Claims of the form ‘S ought to have doxastic attitude D towards p at t’ are sometimes true at t, (b) If Φ-ing at t is not within S’s effective control at t, then it is false, at t, that ‘S ought to Φ at t’, (c) For all S, p, and t, having doxastic (...) attitude D towards p at t is not within S’s effective control at t. All three natural replies to the puzzle have been pursued. Some have claimed that doxastic attitudes like believing that p are, in fact, within our effective control, or sufficiently so. Others have claimed that doxastic ought-claims, strictly speaking, are always false. And some have denied that effective control is required for the adequacy of doxastic ought-claims in general. I here pursue and examine a different strategy. In the first part of this paper, I argue that these claims are not only each true but actually not in tension with each other in the first place. Instead of attempting to dispel the puzzle, this solution proposes to evade it instead: to solve it by properly understanding, and by thereby accepting without contradiction, all of its constitutive claims. In the second part of the paper, I argue that the evasive strategy forces us to re-think our understanding of the place of normative reasons in epistemology. More exactly, it seems to come at the cost of one central way of thinking about our reasons for having doxastic attitudes, one where such reasons are good-standing exemplars of normative reasons in general. The evasive strategy, that is, threatens to lead us very quickly to a deflationary picture of epistemic normativity: it rescues normative talk, but sacrifices normative substance. I conclude by explaining why I think this is more consequential than some have made it out to be, and by suggesting that these consequences are welcome nonetheless. (shrink)
Situationists argue that virtue ethics is empirically untenable, since traditional virtue ethicists postulate broad, efficacious character traits, and social psychology suggests that such traits do not exist. I argue that prominent philosophical replies to this challenge do not succeed. But cross-cultural research gives reason to postulate character traits, and this undermines the situationist critique. There is, however, another empirical challenge to virtue ethics that is harder to escape. Character traits are culturally informed, as are our ideals of what traits are (...) virtuous, and our ideals of what qualifies as well-being. If virtues and well-being are culturally constructed ideals, then the standard strategy for grounding the normativity of virtue ethics in human nature is undermined. (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)
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)
Logical pluralism is the view that there is more than one correct logic. Most logical pluralists think that logic is normative in the sense that you make a mistake if you accept the premisses of a valid argument but reject its conclusion. Some authors have argued that this combination is self-undermining: Suppose that L1 and L2 are correct logics that coincide except for the argument from Γ to φ, which is valid in L1 but invalid in L2. If you accept (...) all sentences in Γ, then, by normativity, you make a mistake if you reject φ. In order to avoid mistakes, you should accept φ or suspend judgment about φ. Both options are problematic for pluralism. Can pluralists avoid this worry by rejecting the normativity of logic? I argue that they cannot. All else being equal, the argument goes through even if logic is not normative. (shrink)
According to epistemic instrumentalists the normativity of evidence for belief is best explained in terms of the practical utility of forming evidentially supported beliefs. Traditional arguments for instrumentalism—arguments based on naturalism and motivation—lack suasive force against opponents. A new argument for the view—the Argument from Coincidence—is presented. The argument shows that only instrumentalists can avoid positing an embarrassing coincidence between the practical value of believing in accordance with one’s evidence, and the existence of reasons so to believe. Responses are (...) considered and shown to be inadequate. (shrink)
There has been much debate over whether to accept the claim that meaning is normative. One obstacle to making progress in that debate is that it is not always clear what the claim amounts to. In this paper, I try to resolve a dispute between those who advance the claim concerning how it should be understood. More specifically, I critically examine two competing conceptions of the normativity of meaning, rejecting one and defending the other. Though the paper aims to (...) settle a dispute among proponents of the claim that meaning is normative, it should be of interest to those who challenge it. After all, before one takes aim, one’s target needs to be in clear view. (shrink)
I argue that the "why be rational?" challenge raised by John Broome and Niko Kolodny rests upon a mistake that is analogous to the mistake that H.A. Pritchard famously claimed beset the “why be moral?” challenge. The failure to locate an independent justification for obeying rational requirements should do nothing whatsoever to undermine our belief in the normativity of rationality. I suggest that we should conceive of the demand for a satisfactory vindicating explanation of the normativity of rationality (...) instead in terms of the demand for a philosophical characterisation of rationality that can do something to explain why rational requirements are the kinds of things that are, by their very nature, normative. I consider several accounts that have recently been offered – the distinctive-object account, the proper functioning account, and the subjective reasons account – and argue that none succeeds in meeting this challenge. I then sketch a new account, the “first-personal authority account”, which holds that rational requirements are what I call “standpoint-relative demands” concerning the attitudes we ought to have and form; and that complying with rational requirements is a matter of honouring our first-personal authority as agents. I suggest that the first-personal authority account does a better job of meeting the challenge. (shrink)
Contrary to the popular assumption that linguistically mediated social practices constitute the normativity of action (Kiverstein and Rietveld, 2015; Rietveld, 2008a,b; Rietveld and Kiverstein, 2014), I argue that it is affective care for oneself and others that primarily constitutes this kind of normativity. I argue for my claim in two steps. First, using the method of cases I demonstrate that care accounts for the normativity of action, whereas social practices do not. Second, I show that a social (...) practice account of the normativity of action has unwillingly authoritarian consequences in the sense that humans act only normatively if they follow social rules. I suggest that these authoritarian consequences are the result of an uncritical phenomenology of action and the fuzzy use of “normative”. Accounting for the normativity of action with care entails a realistic picture of the struggle between what one cares for and often repressive social rules. (shrink)
For many epistemologists and normativity theorists, epistemic norms necessarily entail normative reasons. Why or in virtue of what do epistemic norms have this necessary normative authority? According to what I call epistemic constitutivism, it is ultimately because belief constitutively aims at truth. In this paper, I examine various versions of the aim of belief thesis and argue that none of them can plausibly ground the normative authority of epistemic norms. I conclude that epistemic constitutivism is not a promising strategy (...) for grounding epistemic normativity. (shrink)
Normativity concerns what we ought to think or do and the evaluations we make. For example, we say that we ought to think consistently, we ought to keep our promises, or that Mozart is a better composer than Salieri. Yet what philosophical moral can we draw from the apparent absence of normativity in the scientific image of the world? For scientific naturalists, the moral is that the normative must be reduced to the nonnormative, while for nonnaturalists, the moral (...) is that there must be a transcendent realm of norms. _Naturalism and Normativity_ engages with both sides of this debate. Essays explore philosophical options for understanding normativity in the space between scientific naturalism and Platonic supernaturalism. They articulate a liberal conception of philosophy that is neither reducible to the sciences nor completely independent of themyet one that maintains the right to call itself naturalism. Contributors think in new ways about the relations among the scientific worldview, our experience of norms and values, and our movements in the space of reason. Detailed discussions include the relationship between philosophy and science, physicalism and ontological pluralism, the realm of the ordinary, objectivity and subjectivity, truth and justification, and the liberal naturalisms of Donald Davidson, John Dewey, John McDowell, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. (shrink)
To say that evidence is normative is to say that what evidence one possesses, and how this evidence relates to any proposition, determines which attitude among believing, dis-believing and withholding one ought to take toward this proposition if one deliberates about whether to believe it. It has been suggested by McHugh that this view can be vindi-cated by resting on the premise that truth is epistemically valuable. In this paper, I modify the strategy sketched by McHugh so as to overcome (...) the initial difficulty that it is unable to vindicate the claim that on counterbalanced evidence with respect to P one ought to con-clude deliberation by withholding on P. However, I describe the more serious difficulty that this strategy rests on principles whose acceptance commits one to acknowledging non-evidential reasons for believing. A way to overcome this second difficulty, against the evidentialists who deny this, is to show that we sometimes manage to believe on the ba-sis of non-epistemic considerations. If this is so, one fundamental motivation behind the evidentialist idea that non-epistemic considerations could not enter as reasons in delib-eration would lose its force. In the second part of this paper I address several strategies proposed in the attempt to show that we sometimes manage to believe on the basis of non-epistemic considerations and show that they all fail. So, I conclude that the strategy inspired by McHugh to ground the normativity of evidence of the value of truth ultimately fails. (shrink)
In this paper I examine the question of logic’s normative status in the light of Carnap’s Principle of Tolerance. I begin by contrasting Carnap’s conception of the normativity of logic with that of his teacher, Frege. I identify two core features of Frege’s position: first, the normative force of the logical laws is grounded in their descriptive adequacy; second, norms implied by logic are constitutive for thinking as such. While Carnap breaks with Frege’s absolutism about logic and hence with (...) the notion that any system of logic should have a privileged claim to correctness, I argue that there is a sense in which Carnap’s framework-relative conception of logical norms has a constitutive role to play: though they are not constitutive for the conceptual activity for thinking, they do nevertheless set the ground rules that make certain forms of scientific inquiry possible in the first place. I conclude that Carnap’s principle of tolerance is tamer than one might have thought and that, despite remaining differences, Frege’s and Carnap’s conceptions of logic have more in common than one might have thought. (shrink)
In this paper, we offer a criticism, inspired by Wittgenstein’s rule-following considerations, of the enactivist account of perception and action. We start by setting up a non-descriptivist naturalism regarding the mind and continue by defining enactivism and exploring its more attractive theoretical features. We then proceed to analyse its proposal to understand normativity non-socially. We argue that such a thesis is ultimately committed to the problematic idea that normative practices can be understood as private and factual. Finally, we offer (...) a characterization of normativity as an essentially social phenomenon and apply our criticisms to other approaches that share commitments with enactivism. (shrink)
A slew of recent political theorists—many taking their cue from the political writings of Bernard Williams—have recently contended that political normativity is its own kind of normativity, distinct from moral normativity. In this article, we first attempt to clarify what this claim amounts to and then reconstruct and interrogate five major arguments for it. We contend that all these arguments are unconvincing and fail to establish a sense in which political normativity is genuinely separate from morality.
Young children interpret some acts performed by adults as normatively governed, that is, as capable of being performed either rightly or wrongly. In previous experiments, children have made this interpretation when adults introduced them to novel acts with normative language (e.g. ‘this is the way it goes’), along with pedagogical cues signaling culturally important information, and with social-pragmatic marking that this action is a token of a familiar type. In the current experiment, we exposed children to novel actions with no (...) normative language, and we systematically varied pedagogical and social-pragmatic cues in an attempt to identify which of them, if either, would lead children to normative interpretations. We found that young 3-year-old children inferred normativity without any normative language and without any pedagogical cues. The only cue they used was adult socialpragmatic marking of the action as familiar, as if it were a token of a well-known type (as opposed to performing it, as if inventing it on the spot). These results suggest that – in the absence of explicit normative language – young children interpret adult actions as normatively governed based mainly on the intentionality (perhaps signaling conventionality) with which they are performed. (shrink)
In his discussion of normative concepts in the first part of On What Matters (2011), Parfit holds that apart from the ‘ought’ of decisive reason, there are other senses of ‘ought’ which do not imply any reasons. This claim poses a dilemma for his ‘reason-involving conception’ of normativity: either Parfit has to conclude that non-reason-implying ‘oughts’ are not normative. Or else he is forced to accept that normativity needs only to involve ‘apparent reasons’ – a certain kind of (...) hypothetical truths about reasons. I argue that both of these options are inacceptable. In the course of the discussion, I present a general objection to ‘apparent reason accounts’ of the normativity of rationality as advocated not only by Parfit, but also by Schroeder (2009) and Way (2009). (shrink)
Foundational theories of mental content seek to identify the conditions under which a mental representation expresses, in the mind of a particular thinker, a particular content. Normativists endorse the following general sort of foundational theory of mental content: A mental representation r expresses concept C for agent S just in case S ought to use r in conformity with some particular pattern of use associated with C. In response to Normativist theories of content, Kathrin Glüer-Pagin and Åsa Wikforss propose a (...) dilemma, alleging that Normativism either entails a vicious regress or falls prey to a charge of idleness. In this paper, I respond to this argument. I argue that Normativism can avoid the commitments that generate the regress and does not propose the sort of explanation required to charge that its explanation has been shown to be problematically idle. The regress-generating commitment to be avoided is, roughly, that tokened, contentful mental states are the product of rule-following. The explanatory task Normativists should disavow is that of explaining how it is that beliefs and other contentful mental states are produced. I argue that Normativism, properly understood as a theory of content, does not provide this kind of psychological explanation, and therefore does not entail that such explanations are to be given in terms of rule-following. If this is correct, Normativism is not the proper target of the dilemma offered by Glüer-Pagin and Wikforss. Understanding why one might construe Normativism in the way Glüer-Pagin and Wikforss must, and how, properly understood, it avoids their dilemma, can help us to appreciate the attractiveness of a genuinely normative theory of content and the importance of paying careful attention to the sort of normativity involved in norm-based theories of content. (shrink)
Belief is considered a kind of performance, which attains one level of success if it is true (or accurate), a second level if competent (or adroit), and a third if true because competent (or apt). Knowledge on one level (the animal level) is apt belief. The epistemic normativity constitutive of such knowledge is thus a kind of performance normativity. A problem is posed for this account by the fact that suspension of belief seems to fall under the same (...) sort of epistemic normativity as does belief itself, yet to suspend is of course precisely not to perform, certainly not with the aim of truth. The paper takes up this problem, and proposes a solution that distinguishes levels of performance norrmativity, including a first order where execution competence is in play, and a second order where the performer must assess the risks attendant on issuing a first-order performance. This imports a level of reflective knowledge that ascends above the animal level. (shrink)
It is widely assumed that the normativity of conceptual judgement poses problems for naturalism. Thus John McDowell urges that 'The structure of the space of reasons stubbornly resists being appropriated within a naturalism that conceives nature as the realm of law' (1994, p 73). Similar sentiments have been expressed by many other writers, for example Robert Brandom (1994, p xiii) and Paul Boghossian (1989, p 548).
Abstract: Scepticism about the normativity of rationality is often partially based on the assumption that normative reasons are normative. Starting from the assumption that normative reasons are normative, someone will argue that reasons and rationality can require different things from us and conclude that rationality must not be normative. We think that the assumption that normative reasons are normative is one that deserves more scrutiny, particularly if it turns out, as we shall argue, that no one has yet shown (...) that the requirements of reasons and rationality might be unified. We look at the most promising proposals about how to unite the requirements of reasons and rationality and argue that they cannot succeed. In the course of doing so, we discuss a case that we think gives us good reason to think that good reasons are not the things that determine in each case what we ought to believe and/or do. We argue that the best way to deal with the examples discussed here might be to appeal to principles of rationality and acknowledge that following their guidance will not invariably ensure that we do what normative reasons (as they are usually understood) support. We think that it might just follow that normative reasons (as they are usually understood) cannot be the things that determine what would be rational to do or what we ought to do. (shrink)
Logical pluralism is the view that there is more than one logic. Logical normativism is the view that logic is normative. These positions have often been assumed to go hand-in-hand, but we show that one can be a logical pluralist without being a logical normativist. We begin by arguing directly against logical normativism. Then we reformulate one popular version of pluralism—due to Beall and Restall—to avoid a normativist commitment. We give three non-normativist pluralist views, the most promising of which depends (...) not on logic’s normativity but on epistemic goals. (shrink)
The idea that normativity and agency are importantly connected goes back at least as far as Kant. But it has recently become associated with a view called “constitutivism.” Perhaps the best-known critique of constitutivism appears in David Enoch’s article, “Agency, Shmagency,” which is the focus of this chapter. His critique of my article, “Agency and the Open Question Argument,” is briefly addressed, explaining why, contrary to his claims, I do not therein defend a form of constitutivism. It is then (...) explained why his “shmagency challenge” does not effectively expose the real challenge faced by those who might wish to develop constitutivist theories. Finally, the chapter considers why we should take seriously the idea that normativity and agency are importantly connected, an idea that neither Enoch’s challenge nor the challenge articulated for constitutivism here does anything to defeat. Enoch has not shown that normativity won’t come from what is constitutive of agency. (shrink)
There may be various reasons for claiming that meaning is normative, and additionally, very different senses attached to the claim. However, all such claims have faced fierce resistance from those philosophers who insist that meaning is not normative in any nontrivial sense of the word. In this paper I sketch one particular approach to meaning claiming its normativity and defend it against the anti-normativist critique: namely the approach of Brandomian inferentialism. However, my defense is not restricted to inferentialism in (...) any narrow sense for it encompasses a much broader spectrum of approaches to meaning, connected with the Wittgensteinian and especially Sellarsian view of language as an essentially rule-governed enterprise; and indeed I refrain from claiming that the version of inferentialism I present here is in every detail the version developed by Brandom. (shrink)
It is generally accepted that there are two kinds of normative concepts : evaluative concepts, such as good, and deontic concepts, such as ought. The question that is raised by this distinction is how it is possible to claim that evaluative concepts are normative. Given that deontic concepts appear to be at the heart of normativity, the bigger the gap between evaluative and deontic concepts, the less it appears plausible to say that evaluative concepts are normative. After having presented (...) the main differences between evaluative and deontic concepts, and shown that there is more than a superficial difference between the two kinds, the paper turns to the question of the normativity of evaluative concepts. It will become clear that, even if these concepts have different functions, there are a great many ties between evaluative concepts, on the one hand, and the concepts of ought and of reason, on the other. (shrink)
This paper considers the relation between the sources of normativity, reasons, and normative conflicts. It argues that common views about how normative reasons relate to their sources have important consequences for how we can understand putative normative conflicts.