Normative Bedrock: Response-Dependence, Rationality, and Reasons

ISBN : 9780199657544

Joshua Gert
228 Pages
148 x 222 mm
Pub date
Sep 2012
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Joshua Gert presents an original and ambitious theory of the normative. Expressivism and non-reductive realism represent two very widely separated poles in contemporary discussions of normativity. But the domain of the normative is both large and diverse; it includes, for example, the harmful, the fun, the beautiful, the wrong, and the rational. It would be extremely surprising if either expressivism or non-reductive realism managed to capture all-or even the most important-phenomena associated with all of these notions. Normative Bedrock defends a response-dependent account of the normative that accommodates the kind of variation in response that some non-reductive realists downplay or ignore, but that also allows for the sort of straightforward talk of normative properties, normative truth, and substantive normative disagreement that expressivists have had a hard time respecting. One of the distinctive features of Gert's approach is his reliance, throughout, on an analogy between colour properties and normative properties. He argues that the appropriate response to a given instance of a normative property may often depend significantly on the perspective one takes on that instance: for example, whether one views it as past or future. Another distinctive feature of Normative Bedrock is its focus on the basic normative property of practical irrationality, rather than on the notion of a normative reason or the notion of the good. This simple shift of focus allow for a more satisfying account of the link between reasons and motivation, and helps to explain why and how some reasons can justify far more than they can require, and why we therefore need two strength values to characterize the normative capacities of practical reasons.


1. Linguistic Naturalism
2. Basic Normative Terms
3. Basic Normative Properties
4. Practical Rationality
5. Harms
6. Objective Practical Reasons
7. A Limited Intuitionist Faculty

About the author: 

Joshua Gert is a Professor of Philosophy at the College of William and Mary. He writes primarily in value theory and philosophy of colour.

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