Let's See You Do Better

Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 10 (2023)
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In response to criticism, we often say – in these or similar words – “Let’s see you do better!” Prima facie, it looks like this response is a challenge of a certain kind – a challenge to prove that one has what has recently been called standing. More generally, the data here seems to point a certain kind of norm of criticism: be better. Slightly more carefully: One must: criticize x with respect to standard s only if one is better than x with respect to standard s. In this paper, I defend precisely this norm of criticism – an underexplored norm that is nevertheless ubiquitous in our lives, once we begin looking for it. The be better norm is, I hope to show, continuously invoked in a wide range of ordinary settings, can undergird and explain the widely endorsed non-hypocrisy condition on the standing to blame, and apparent counterexamples to the norm are no such counterexamples at all. I further contend that, given some plausible principles, my previous “moral commitment” account of the moral standing to blame will be extensionally equivalent to the be better norm.

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Patrick Todd
University of Edinburgh


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