Kamonoha World


Stephen Finlay 'Defining Normativity'

 Q: When metaethicists disagree on the nature of moral normativity, do they talk about the same thing? Or, do they just talk past each other? 

- Finlay thinks the answer to this question is 'no'.

- To motivate this answer, he suggests a definition of 'normativity' metaethicists from different theoretical backgrounds can accept. 

Where can we start? 

- Due to the fact that people can disagree whether there is really such a property 'normativity', we should start with seeking what common normative thought or language is pursued both by realists and anti-realists (ex., we ought to keep promises, you must not kill others, it is wrong to torture innocent children, everybody agrees that these are normative expressions). 

- Difficult to find anybody who denies that some language or thought are normative. 

Cognitivists should mean by 'normative' either: As of facts and properties, having a property of some special kind P, or as of expressions and judgements, being about something normative (in the sense abve) 

Non-cognitivits should mean by 'normative' in the way: as of expressions or judgements, having the nonrepresentational functions(s), F (for instance, expressing some particular emotions, accepting some norms, and so on). 

- If this is what is going on between cognitivits and non-cognitivits, isn't there any common object of enquiry between them? 

- Finlay thinks this conclusion is too early. 

Suggestion One: if we can identify what cognitivits and non-cognitivists are after, we can find the common property? (Finlay thinks this approach fails) 

- an example, prescriptivity (guiding agents or telling them what to do)? (Copp 2011) 

- Cognitivits think this property belongs to facts or properties, while non-cognitivits think this property belongs to expressions and judgements.  

- Not a good suggestion. They disagree on what sort of expression is normative or not (ex., Keep off the grass! Normative or not? A disagreement between Falk and Parfit, Parfit 2011, p. 291) . Also, the nature of normativity they offer are radically different. Non-cognitivits would accept a radical sadist offers a normative judgement while cognitivits deny this. 

Suggestion Two: the ostensive form of the definition is the most promising way. 

- Both cognitivits and non-cognitivits try to find a common feature possed by normative sentences or judgements

Univocity among cognitivists: 

- Non-naturalism and naturalism: 

- The distinction between intrinsically normative (ex., pain) and extrinsically normative (raining) 

- the three levels, (1) ordinary facts can be normative extrinsically (2) intrinsically normative properties (goodness, of being a reason, of what somebody ought to do), (3) the abstract property of 'normativity' shared by intrinsically normative properties

- non-naturalists can assume the third level normativity is non-natural, while naturalists can assume the third level normativity is natural (such as 'being the kind of thing that agents look toward to close deliberation). Even some naturalists can disagree on the content of the third level normativity. 

- so the idea suggested here is that this third level normativity is what all cognitivits try to find. 

Explaining The distinction between 'formal' and 'robust' normativity

- formal normativity univocal in law, etiquette, games, shopping lists, 

- robust normativity, univocal in ethics, epistemology and other branches of normative philosophy 

- Parfit's distionction between 'rule implying sense' and 'reason implying sense', but this distinction fails due to the fact that robust normativity may include some rules (ex., Kantian categorical imperatives) 

- Finlay's own suggestion: normativity consisting in end-relational properties of increading/decreasing the probability of some outcome or end, and rule relational properties of conforming/nonconforming with some proposition or rule. 

- Accroding to Finlay, the robust sense of noramtivity is the same sense shared by other formal normative judgements (robust normative judgements are about the same kind of facts and properties formal normative judgements are about). 

- Perhaps, the distinction between the two can be explained by non-representational mental property non-cognitivits typically appeal to. 

Tristram McPherson 'What is at stake in debates among normative realists?'

Two desiderata: 

- giving an clear account of 'naturalism' and 'reduction' in the way metaphysically interesting

- answering the proponents' theoretical interests 

Suggestion: the joint carving taxnomy appealing to David Lewis's notion of elite properties (also recently developed by Sider) 

Natural - Non-Natural, a bad distinction? 

- in other domains, the metaphysical debates are more specific? (the physical and the mind, the physical and the chemical, the physical and the sociological) 

- just a historical accident influenced by Moore? 

- the real issue is not metaphysical, but conceptual? (Gibbard 2003) 


- unlike the debate in philosophy of mind, the issues concerning the very nature of the normative is a live one (whether they are causally efficacious, whether science in principle is able to detect them, etc.) 

Problems of Standard Divisions 

- causal efficacy? : the divine command theorist might assume the possibility of God's causal intervention breaking laws of nature, but such a view should be inconsistent with naturalism 

- Copp style empirical/non-empirical (strongly a priori)?: some divine command theorists might accept the empirical investigation of God but such a theory should be in conflict with naturalism 

Lewisian distinction between elite or sparce properties and less elite or abundant properties: 

Just Local Debates?: if the task of a metaethicist is to elucidate the relationship between the subject matter of ethics and the subject matter other people work on, we might not need worry about the characterisation of the natural.

An example may be Schroeder. A natural reading of his claim (normative facts are facts about reasons, and facts about reasons are facts about desires) is a reductive naturalist thesis, but he himself is not happy with this characterisation (Schroeder 2017). 

- This approach ignores the theoretical interest among philosophers. 

- Boyd's approach eschew the local strategy. Boyd's suggestion is that whatever the detail of the characters of the normative, there is an attraction of understanding the normative in a naturalistic way. 

- One of the important issues the Moorean non-naturalists should address is the falsity of global naturalism. So, just elucidating the character of the normative does not suffice for its purpose. 

Naturalistic Reduction Appealing to the Notion of 'Elite Properties' 

Elite: the real definition of every elite normative property is provided by an elite property-forming function of the basic natural properties (assuming asymmetrical structure among the elite properties)

Moorean Non-naturalism: There are actual elite normative properties and the class of normative properties is a distinct metaphysical similarity class: (a) normative properties share an elite similarity shared by no other properties, and (b) normative properties do not share the elite similarities that characterize the natural or supernatural. 



Terence Cuneo, 'Recent Faces of Moral Non-Naturalism'

Two aims: 

- non-naturalism should be understood not as a position, rather a stance. 

- arguments for non-naturalism proposed by Fine, Shafer-Landau, and Hampton

What is non-naturalism? 

- the standard view is that according to non-naturalism, there are some moral properties which are not natural (Sturgeon 2007).  

- Copp's suggestion: non-natural properties are the ones their propositions are synthetic and strongly a priori 

- Cuneo argues that non-naturalists do not have to accept this suggestion (too strong!). Non-naturalists do not have to accept the idea that some moral propositions are immune to empirical evidence (the existence of disagreement among epistemic peers). Also, a plausible view on a pirori defended by BonJour, Casullo, Plantiga assumes that a priori are fallibilistic in character. 

- Following van Fraasen, non-naturalism may be understood as a stance. 

- Timmons's idea about two aims of metaethical inquiries, the internal project (comporting well with ordinary assumptions of our moral discourse) and the external project (the coherence with science). 

- non-naturalism is a stance which prioritise the internal project while naturalism is a stance which values the external project more.

- an example of naturalism, Jackson's location problem  

Shafer-Landau's argument: 

- the ethics as philosophy argument 

- ethical inquiries and philosophical inquiries both employ a priori methods (whether there are universals vs whether eating animals is permissible) 

- one objection: the divine command theorist would not accept the idea that inquiries in ethics is a priori 

Fine's argument: 

- there are different varieties of necessities, and the normative cannot be reduced to either the metaphysical or the natural. 

- the normative necessity is the necessity between ordinary natural features and moral features 

- Cuneo argues that Fine's notion of normative necessity has some problems. For instance, the non-reductive naturalist would consider the relation between the natural and the non-natural in the same way they see the relations between, say, language use and meaning, brain and mind, the chemical and the biological, and so on. None of these should be understood as instances of normative necessity, something else. The same worry is raised by the non-naturalist. 

Hampton's argument

- in the moral domain we often offfer what she calls 'final cause explanation' or 'teleological explanation'. Naturalists fail to reduce these types of explanation to naturalistically respectable explanations. 

- Cuneo argues that naturalists should be willing to accept both non-robust and robust teleological explanations, and they could. 

Main issues? 

- naturalists and non-naturalists disagree on the emphasis of a priori moral knowledge. 

- naturalists and non-naturalists disagree on the explanation of action, the former gives a Humean-Davidsonian (reasons as causes) explanation while the latter rejects this approach. 

David Enoch 'Non-Naturalistic Realism in Metaethics'

(1) Non-naturalism as the default position: other positions enter the field on the strength of some argument

First Reason: Moral or normative language behaves in the similar way other representational language do. We assert or deny some moral issues. We are happy to assign truth values to sentences containing normative language. Of course, language might deceive us, but if so, the representational feature of moral language must be the default position. 

Second Reason: Moral discourse exhibits objective purport. Even if we know that somebody's moral stanrad is different from others, we might criticize other's views or revise our views. Also, we have the intuition that certain counterfactuals deny response-dependence accounts of morality (Even if nobody acknowledged its wrongness, burying is wrong). 

Thid Reason: Moral facts or properties seem to be not natural. Paradigmatically moral facts are so different from paradigmatically natural properties. Perhaps there are some borderline cases, such as being healthy, the heart's function of pumping blood. Perhaps, due to the presusse of some argument, we have to conclude that some moral properties are in fact natural, but still, we can say that moral facts' being non-natural is a default presupposition. 

Fourth Reason: Moral facts seem to have full blood normativity (McPherson 2012). Whenever there are relevant criteria of correctness, normativity is present. Moral facts are not normative in this sense. Whether or not we set up the correctness of morality, the normativity of morality should be there (at least before we start our investigation). 

(2) Some typical objections: 

Naturalism: if metaphysical or methodological naturalism is correct, non-naturalism must be false. 

Supervenience/ the Metaphysical Dependence: the supervenience of the moral on the non-moral requires some explanation, but the non-naturalism might face a difficulty of providing such an explanation. 

The Epistemological Worry: how can we have the epistemic access to such non-natural facts/properties? 

Evolutionary Debunking Argument: given the biological origine of moral judgements, we cannot assume the reliability of moral judgements as realists in general presuppose. 

Meta-semantic: if moral properties are non-natural, how can we even have beliefs or concepts about them using moral terms? (ex., Moore's open question argument and the moral twin earth objection can be read as semantic objections to naturalistic moral realism, and remember Boyd's response to them, Boyd's semantic story looks more natural then the one the non-naturalist can offer) 

Moral motivation: moral judgements and motivation seem to have a strong relation, but non-naturalism cannot explain this relation. 

Why be moral challenge: if moral truths are completely independent of our concern, why do we care such things? 

* A related issue Enoch takes up in his 2011 book: Reason for Action, non-naturalism faces a difficulty of explaning our reasons for action in general. 

Moral disagreement: non-naturalism faces a difficulty of providing a satisfactory explanation of the phenomenon of moral disagreement. Contrary, the anti-realist might provide an abductive argument agasint realism appealing to the existence of actual moral disagreements (cf., Mackie 1977, Enoch 2011).  

(3) Exactly, what is the view? 

- Because of the creeping minimalism problem, the distinction between realism and anti-realism is getting unclear, and this state makes non-naturalism unclear as well (but this is not a problem particularly for non-naturalism).

- The quietist views: some non-naturalists who try to not to have heavy metaphysical commitment, such as Dworkin and Parfit (should they categorize them as non-naturalist realists, at all? do we need to do some 'meta-metaphysics'?). 

- The issue concerning the natural-non-natural distinction: causal efficacy? (Oddie 2005 would disagree), empirical? (well, but we are doing metaphysics, not epistemology), non-normative?, the properties the empirical sciences quantify over? (Sturgeon 2007)

(4) Positive arguments for naturalism? 

- the open question argument??: the original argument fails due to familiar reasons (even if a question is not closed, this does not imply that there is an identity, etc.), but some lessons may be taken, such as that natural facts do not have the moral normativity, that moral facts and natural facts are so different and the reduction is hopeless. 

- some analogy? : Cuneo (2007) gives an analogy between epistemic norms and moral norms, and argues that because epistemic norms should be understood in terms non-naturalistic realism about epistemic norms, we should also understand moral norms in the same way. 

- good first-order implication? (Enoch 2011)

- necessary for the deliberative project? (Enoch 2011) 


Richard Y Chappell, 'Why Care About Non-Natural Reasons?'

[The Main Claim] The role of non-natural properties is not to be the reasons to which we should respond, rather to mark which natural properties serve as such reasons. 

In order to defend this non-naturalist picture of normativity, Chappell discusses two arguments against non-naturalism: the argument from unintelligible concern and the argument from moral idlers. 

[The Argument from Unintelligible Concern]

Commitment to natural features may be intelligible, but commitment to non-natural properties are not intelligible. Our commitment to natural features is intelligible while our commitment to non-natural properties is not. 

Chappell's response: we should make a distinction between the de re reading and the de dicto reading of the function of non-natural properties. Non-naturalists are not committed to the idea that we are motivated by the thought of non-natural properties on the de dicto reading. 

 [The Argument from Moral Idlers]

In order to be normatively significant, non-natural properties need to feature in correct justification. 

Chappell's response: non-natural properties have a different role in accounting normativitiy, such as a truth maker for the claim that the natural property of killing many and saving none is to be avoided. So, even if they are not part of justificaiton, still they have an important role. 

Chappell thinks that Bedke's objection is somewhat different from Jackson's original one. 

Bedke's Claim: the wrong making features of the act in question is its natural features, such as the causing of pain. Those natural features have normative significance. 

Chappell: the non-naturalist simply claims that there are no further answers concerning the question 'what does the wrongness of the act consist in?'. The non-naturalist says what makes the act wrong is just the non-natural wrongness as such, and this is a brute fact. 

Chappell's distinction between 'the constitutive sense' and the normative sense'. The former is the sense that the wrongness of the act consist in non-natural properties while the latter is the sense that what makes the act wrong is its natural features.  


Frank Jackson, From Metaphysics to Ethics (Chapter 5 The Location Problem for Ethics: Moral Properties and Moral Content)

* Jackson understands 'cognitivism' as a semantic thesis: ethical sentences are truth-apt, where to be truth-apt is to be semantically able to have a truth-value (113). 

[A Response to Jackson's Analytic Discriptivism: the Possibility of Logically Equivalent Predicates Picking Out Distinct Properties] 

Being an equilateral (three sides are the same length) triangle 

Being an equiangular (all three angles are equal) traiangle 

They are logically equivalent properties. Then, do they represent different properties? 

One argument: we can understand that a triangle is equilateral, but fail to see that it is also equiangular. So, the argument goes, they represent distinct properties. 

Jackson's response: on the conception of property accroding to which a property is a way things might be which is an aspect of the world, there is only one property represented by both the concept of being equilateral and being equiangular. 

Another argument: we can create a machine which detect a triangle which is equilateral, but not equiangular. This case shows that the former property has a unique causal function which is not shared by the latter. 

Jackson's response: this does not show whether being equilateral and being equiangular are distinct. We think that this example shows that only the former plays the causal role, but this judgement comes from the doctrine that sides are distinct from angles. This doctrine is the one which is in question, so the example does not support the conclusion the argument is supposed to provide. 

Jackson also provides some considerations which positively support the thesis that logically equivalent properties are not distinct. 

(1) Knowing the complete stroy of how and when the language user produces the word 'right' can be given descriptively, it is difficult to justify the idea that the property picked up by 'right' is distinct from the relevant discriptive properties. 

(2) 'Secondly, it is hard to see how the further properties could be of any ethical
significance. Are we supposed to take seriously someone who says, ‘I see
that this action will kill many and save no‐one, but that is not enough to
justify my not doing it; what really matters is that the action has an extra
property that only ethical terms are suited to pick out’? In short, the extra
properties would ethical ‘idlers’'. (127)

→ This consideration is supposed to be a one which supports the thesis that logically equivalent properties are identical. Here, Jackson seems to be saying that only descriptive properties have ethical significance which makes the action in question right or wrong while distinct properties do not have such significance. 

(3) It is hard to provide a principle which tells us when certain twining properties (such as of ethical) are distinct from the relevant descriptive properties. 

 * Jackson says certain metaphysical views are necessary for the supervenience of the psychological on the physical. On the other hand, we do not need to hold any metaphysical view on ethical properties in order appreciate the supervenience of the ethical on the descriptive (128-9). 

Matt Bedke 'A Menagerie of Duties? Normative Judgements Are Not Beliefs about Non-Natural Properties

[The main claim] Normative judgements do not have the certain epistemic profile which is necessary for them to be about non-natural properties. This does not necessarily imply that normative judgements are not beliefs. They may be beliefs, but not about non-natural properties. 

Epistemic Profile for Normative Judgements?  

The Thetic Direction of Fit: Judgement with content P is cognitive if (and only if??) it would tend to go out of existence in case one takes oneself to have decisive accepted evidence that not-P

* Some people think the thetic direction of fit thesis is a necessary or conceptual truth about belief, such as Michael Smith. But Bedke thinks such a strong claim is not true. 

Weak Dispositoinalism: If a type of judgement systematically fail to have the thetic direction of fit, this is very good evidence that the judgement is not belief 

If normative judgements are beliefs, we expect that they should be at least consistent with Weak Dispositionalism. Especially, if normative judgements are about non-natural properties, they should have tendency to be not held in cases where the evidence concerning the existence of non-natural properites is absent. 

Two Arguments against the predicted evidence-sensitivity of normative judgements: 

The Arugment from Error Theoretic Reactions 

If normative nihilism is true, we always have no decisive evidence for our normative judgements. 

Level One: do our normative judgements go out of existence if we embrace nihilism?

→ Many error theorists say no to this issue, on the basis of their own experience. The reason may be this: normative judgements are sensitive to natural features (the cat is being romented, it is experiencing pain, the boys enjoy this fact), not metaphysically suspicious non-natural features. 

→ There are some possible answers to both the revisionist and abolitionist reactions. 

The Argument from Normative Discovery 

The presence of non-natural properties do not have any impact on our normative judgements. But non-naturalists have to hold this view: if one could directly cognize non-natural properties, then one would be disposed to change one's mind to align with whatever is revealed by that direct cognition, regardless of the natural facts, one's attitudes, etc. 

A thought experiment: God reveals all the non-natural properties which are exhibited in this world. In this case, we have the direct cognition of non-natural properties. Then, do we change our normative judgements? Bedke thinks we do not, so non-naturalism is false.