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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.