The Normative Constraint

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 244)


Up to now we have been concerned with the following: firstly, and traditionally with the basic nature of the world, and things in the world that constitute what the knower attempts to know, understand, and work out (the Factual Situation). We tried to determine what that needs to be if it is to be knowable. Secondly we were concerned with the relation between the putative knower, and the object of that knower’s supposed knowledge. We were investigating epistemic requirements (Epistemic System), and analyzed conditions and pre-conditions of articulation, for these are the conditions, and pre-conditions of knowing. Further, and in very general terms we inquired into the nature of the knower (Ego Sapiens), being mainly concerned with the independence of the knower and the knower’s difference from the I-perspective, which the knower adopts. We now need to make a further inquiry, especially into Ego Sapiens, for clearly that Ego must possess appropriate capacities much in the way in which the world needs some features to be knowable. A stone is not a possible knower. Knowledge is possible just when the features of the world resonate to the capacities of the Ego. This then is the task of the present chapter, and finale of the book.


Factual Situation Ontological Commitment Normative Constraint Normative Capacity Brute Fact 
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  1. 1.
    Franz Brentano (1930) in his doctrine of Evidence, states that no test of truth is possible provided only that it requires a relation between the tested judgement and something other, as that leads to infinite regress. This somewhat parallels some of the difficulties we discussed above. The worry does not invalidate the present point for we are not seeking to prove the validity of the normative choice but only to state its nature, and ramifications from the observer’s point of view. The regress does not materialise for the points raised in the previous discussion apply mutatis mutandis, if more simply, in the present case.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    We must then vividly disagree with Ayer (1946) when he claims that values and norms have no literal application (meaning) being therefore spurious philosophical phantasmagoria. Whatever else normative assessment is not spurious, and values not pointless. Which is not to say that spurious pseudo-values cannot be concocted. To give obvious examples might offend the deepest sensitivities of very serious people, so I leave that task to the reader.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MelbourneAustralia

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