Quasi-naturalism and the problem of alternative normative concepts

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The following scenario seems possible: a community uses concepts that play the same role in guiding actions and shaping social life as our normative concepts, and yet refer to something else. As Eklund (2017) argues, this apparent possibility poses a problem for any normative realist who aspires to vindicate the thought that reality itself favors our ways of valuing and acting. How can realists make good on this idea, given that anything they might say in support of the privileged status of our normative concepts can be mirrored by the imagined community? E.g., the realist might claim that using our concepts is what we ought to do if we are to describe normative facts correctly, but members of the other community can claim the same about their concepts, using their own concept of ought. A promising approach to this challenge is to try to rule out the possibility of alternative normative concepts, by arguing that any concepts that have the same normative role must share a reference as well. (Eklund calls this referential normativity.) In this paper I argue that normative quasi-naturalism, a view that combines expressivism about normative discourse with a naturalist metaphysics of normativity, supports referential normativity and solves the problem of alternative normative concepts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Moral Philosophy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy


  • Alternative normative concepts
  • Expressivism
  • Naturalism
  • Normative realism


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