Editors

Russ Shafer-Landau

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2015

Publication Title

Oxford Studies in Metaethics

ISBN

9780198738695

Volume

10

First Page

216

Last Page

244

Abstract

Metaethical non-naturalists maintain that normative or evaluative properties cannot be reduced to, or otherwise explained in terms of, natural properties. They thus have difficulty explaining what these irreducibly normative properties are supposed to be, other than by saying what they are not. I offer a partial, positive characterization of irreducible normativity in naturalistic terms. At a first pass, it is this: that to attribute a normative property to something is necessarily to commend or condemn that thing, due to the nature of the property attributed. This theory characterizes normativity in terms of the natural phenomenon of performing certain familiar speech acts. The hypothesis does other explanatory work as well: it provides for an account of the “queerness” of normative properties, one superior to other accounts; it explains why metaethical reductionism is bound to fail, in a way friendly to non-naturalism (as opposed to non-cognitivism); and it can help deflect arguments against non-naturalism from the “essential practicality” of normativity.

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