Normative explanation unchained

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 103 (2):278-297 (2020)
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[This paper is available as open access from the publisher.] Normative theories aim to explain why things have the normative features they have. This paper argues that, contrary to some plausible existing views, one important kind of normative explanations which first-order normative theories aim to formulate and defend can fail to transmit downward along chains of metaphysical determination of normative facts by non-normative facts. Normative explanation is plausibly subject to a kind of a justification condition whose satisfaction may fail to transmit along the relevant kind of metaphysical hierarchy. A broader aim of the paper is to contribute to systematic theorizing about normative explanation: whereas there has been a great deal of work on scientific explanation, there has been little by way of systematic exploration of what sort of explanations normative theories aim to formulate and defend.

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Pekka Väyrynen
University of Leeds


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