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Epistemic constraints on practical normativity

Robertson, Simon 2011. Epistemic constraints on practical normativity. Synthese 181 (1) , pp. 81-106. 10.1007/s11229-010-9851-y

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Abstract

What is the relation between what we ought to do, on the one hand, and our epistemic access to the ought-giving facts, on the other? In assessing this, it is common to distinguish ‘objective’ from ‘subjective’ oughts. Very roughly, on the objectivist conception what an agent ought to do is determined by ought-giving facts in such a way that does not depend on the agent’s beliefs about, or epistemic access to, those facts; whereas on the subjectivist conception, what an agent ought to do depends on his beliefs. This paper defends the need for, and explicates, a third category of ‘ought’: ‘warranted oughts’. Section 1 introduces the distinction between objective and subjective ‘oughts’. Sections 2–3 draw attention to some serious problems with each. Section 4 examines, though rejects, a recent attempt to replace subjective ‘oughts’ with objective ‘wide-scope oughts’ operating on belief-action combinations. Section 5 explicates the notion of a warranted ‘ought’ and defends the account against some possible objections. The resulting a picture is one in which an adequate analysis of practical normativity requires both objective and warranted ‘oughts’. Section 6 concludes by responding to a worry about countenancing both.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Belief; Ought; Reasons; Warrant; Wide-scope
Publisher: Springer
ISSN: 0039-7857
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 04:18
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/36362

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