Normativity, Necessity and Tense: A Recipe for Homebaked Normativity

In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, Volume 5. Oxford University Press (2010)
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Normative concepts have a special taste, which many consider to be proof that they cannot be reductively analyzed into entirely nonnormative components. This paper demonstrates that at least some intuitively normative concepts can be reductively analyzed. I focus on so-called ‘hypothetical imperatives’ or ‘anankastic conditionals’, and show that the availability of normative readings of conditionals is determined by features of grammar, specifically features of tense. Properly interpreted, these grammatical features suggest that these deontic modals are analyzable in terms of conditional necessity with a certain temporal structure.
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