Normativity and naturalism as if nature mattered

Journal of Critical Realism 18 (3):258-273 (2019)
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The usual way of discussing normativity and naturalism is by running through a standard range of issues: the relations of fact and value, objectivity, reason and emotion, is and ought, and the so-called ‘naturalistic fallacy’. This is a naturalism that is virtually silent on nature. I outline an alternative approach that relates normativity to our nature as living beings, for whom specific things are good or bad for us. Our nature as evaluative beings is shown to be rooted in and emergent from this biological normativity. There is also significant downward causation, such that our brain-bodies are continually modified by our experience and thoughts. Cultures, as emergent from the affordances of our brain-bodies, create further extensive, irreducible sources of normativity, albeit ones which do not wholly escape biological normativity and can impact back on it.
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