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Naturalism and the Problem of Normativity

TURP, MICHAEL-JOHN,DAVID (2011) Naturalism and the Problem of Normativity. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This dissertation explores the way in which normative facts create a problem for naturalist approaches to philosophy. How can lumpy scientific matter give rise to technicolour normativity? How can normative facts show up in the world described from a scientific perspective? In this context, I start by analysing Hume’s discussion of ’is’ and ‘ought’, Moore’s open question argument, and Kripke’s interpretation of Wittgenstein’s rule-following considerations. I then look at the nature of philosophical naturalism in detail, arguing that is fundamentally an epistemological commitment to the norms governing scientific publications. I consider the particular examples of Penelope Maddy’s approach to naturalising logic and the instrumentalist accounts of epistemic normativity favoured by advocates of naturalised epistemology. I argue, however, that these approaches to naturalising normativity are unsuccessful. In the second half of the dissertation, I develop a novel account of the nature of normative facts and explain how this relates to and resolves some of the difficulties raised in the first half. The account I defend has Kantian foundations and an Aristotelian superstructure. I associate the right with the necessary preconditions for engaging in valuable activity and the good with the satisfaction of the constitutive ends of activities and practices. I explain how my theory can account for epistemic normativity and defend a virtue-based theory of epistemic evaluation. Finally, I argue against desire-based accounts of reasons and in favour of a role for the emotions in normative cognition. The view I defend is intended to be compatible with our best scientific theories. However, it is not naturalistic insofar as it is justified by distinctively philosophical methods and relies on extra-scientific considerations.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Naturalism, Normativity, Epistemology, Metaethics, The Right and the Good, Practices
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Philosophy, Department of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:16 Apr 2012 16:37

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