Against Supervenience and Reductionist Accounts of Normativity

  • Michael P. Wolf
  • Jeremy Randel Koons


In Chap.  2, we argued that no form of naturalism could do away with normativity altogether. In this chapter, we address a large swath of the naturalist literature that attempts to place properties of normative discourse within the terrain of entities posited by the natural sciences. There are numerous strategies to place them indirectly in the natural world by showing that they reduce to or supervene upon reputable categories of properties and entities from other theories. For instance, they might reduce to or supervene upon our attitudes, which we might take to be some subset of our psychological states; those might then be shown to reduce to or supervene on some further physical substrate. An implicit assumption in any placement strategy—reductionism or non-reductive supervenience—is that it offers us an explanatory account. To identify a reduction or supervenience base successfully would be to specify some range of objects and properties that would explain why there are just the true normative claims that there are, and why they have the particular sort of grip on us that they do.


Natural World Normative Content Natural Property Moral Property Ontological Commitment 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael P. Wolf
    • 1
  • Jeremy Randel Koons
    • 2
  1. 1.Washington, PAUSA
  2. 2.DohaQatar

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