SOPhiA 2021

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

The Feeling of Categorical Normative Force Is Just a Feeling
(Ethics, )

A Error theorists have long argued that there is something deeply suspicious about moral thinking. In this paper I defend a new (and notably metaphysics-independent) proposal about the source of that suspiciousness: namely an incoherence in the moral feeling of "categorical normative force". When we're experiencing that feeling - about, say, paying a friend back for a loan - we see paying them back as having a specific kind of priority over all incompatible alternatives (e.g. claiming they never lent you anything); that's part of the feeling's overriding-feeling motivational force. I note, first, that an action's seeming that way is either entirely, not at all, or only partly a matter of our being motivated a certain way. I then consider what would follow from fully "internalizing" each possibility on an affective/motivational level. First, if it's just a matter of our being in a specific motivation state, then nothing outside our current motivation-state counts in favor of the action (vis-a-vis this specific kind of priority) over the alternatives. Internalizing that fact, I argue, involves a degree of receptivity to alternatives that is incompatible with the feeling of categorical normative force. Second, if the action's seeming to have priority is a purely non-motivational matter, then it will "leave us cold" in a way incompatible with the feeling. Third, I argue, putting two such components together doesn't help. The result is that if we fully internalize any of the ways things could actually be, nothing seems the way things seem when we're having the feeling of categorical normative force. In fact, I argue, every action will positively seem to lack the kind of priority associated with that feeling. My conclusion is that any domain (like morality) that centrally involves seeing things the way we see them when we're having the feeling of categorical normative force is to that degree in error. The seeming normative force of morality, in other words, is an illusion.

Chair: Damiano Ranzenigo
Time: 18:10-18:40, 09 September 2021 (Thursday)
Location: SR 1.004
Remark: (Online Talk)

Louis Gularte 
(Brown University, )

Testability and Meaning deco