Actual Guidance Is Enough

Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy 24 (1) (2023)
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In a recent paper, Nate Sharadin and Rob van Someren Greve pull into doubt a seemingly platitudinous idea: deontic evaluation is capable of guiding action (“Capable”). After discussing several arguments for it, the authors conclude that, to the extent to which Capable can be defended, it cannot produce interesting results about the nature of the deontic. My goal is to argue that the authors’ skeptical endeavors are unconvincing. I aim to show that they rely on an implausibly broad understanding of “actual guidance”. I propose an alternative understanding and show that, with it, “functionalist” arguments of the above kind can produce interesting results. If I am right, Sharadin’s and van Someren Greve’s considerations do not get off the ground. Instead, optimism seems warranted: We can learn something interesting about the nature of the deontic by assuming that actual guidance is the function of deontic evaluation.

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Stefan Fischer
Universität Konstanz


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