SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

How to Understand the __Normative__ in __Normative Reason__
(Ethics, English)

As orthodoxy in metanormative debates has it, talk of __normative reasons__ is commonly re-garded as being deontic, i.e. as issuing prescriptions to the subject in possession of such rea-sons. In my talk, I want to explore an alternative view of normative reasons: non-prescriptivism. According to this position, normative reasons themselves do not carry any de-ontic force and being in the possession of such a consideration that speaks in favour of &_966;-ing, &_966; being some action or attitude, does not entail any sort of obligation. This might appear sur-prising. However, first, I take it to be in line with recent analyses of normative reasons in terms of fittingness. Second, I maintain that non-prescriptive reasons are still able to perform the very same function as deontically loaded ones. (1) They are still able to justify or rational-ize our responses. (2) They do not lose their ability to guide us in our deliberation. Normative reasons can be motivating reasons regardless of issuing any prescriptions. (3) Given some fur-ther conditions, like intentional control on the subject__s side, I argue, normative reasons are still able to explain deontic facts.

Now, provided that this view on reasons is on a par with orthodoxy in accommodating the functions which are commonly attributed to normative reasons, what are the upsides of this shift? First, non-prescriptivism has a clear advantage in being more parsimonious: in order for an attitude to count as reasons-responsive, we do not need to attribute any sort of responsibil-ity-basing capacity to the subject. Second, and relatedly, it can accommodate certain dispari-ties which some philosophers like Thomas Pink and Rik Peels have endorsed: we count as di-rectly responsible for some of our reasons-responsive attitudes (e.g. intentions) but not for others (e.g. beliefs). Third, I take my view to be superior to certain approaches to epistemic normativity, i.e. the idea that epistemic normativity is not genuinely normative, or non-authoritatively normative. While maintaining the basic insights of these positions, non-prescriprivism does not fall prey to recent objections levelled against this family of theories.

Time: 10:40-11:10, 09. September 2022 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.005

Michael Vollmer 
(University of Innsbruck, Austria)

Testability and Meaning deco