Normative Explanation and Justification

Noûs 55 (1):3-22 (2019)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Normative explanations of why things are wrong, good, or unfair are ubiquitous in ordinary practice and normative theory. This paper argues that normative explanation is subject to a justification condition: a correct complete explanation of why a normative fact holds must identify features that would go at least some way towards justifying certain actions or attitudes. I first explain and motivate the condition I propose. I then support it by arguing that it fits well with various theories of normative reasons, makes good sense of certain legitimate moves in ordinary normative explanatory discourse, and helps to make sense of our judgments about explanatory priority in certain cases of normative explanation. This last argument also helps to highlight respects in which normative explanation won’t be worryingly discontinuous with explanations in other domains even though these other explanations aren’t subject to the justification condition. Thus the paper aims not only to do some constructive theorizing about the relatively neglected topic of normative explanation but also to cast light on the broader question of how normative explanation may be similar to and different from explanations in other domains.

Author's Profile

Pekka Väyrynen
University of Leeds

Analytics

Added to PP
2019-03-01

Downloads
1,528 (#5,662)

6 months
144 (#17,717)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?