Philosophy Research Seminar - Professor Pekka Vayrynen
Professor Pekka Vayrynen (University of Leeds)
G2, Cotham House
Normative Explanation Unchained
This paper argues that normative explanation – a kind of non-causal explanation of why things have the normative features they do – fails to satisfy standard transitivity principles. I first illustrate the structure of the kind of normative explanations on whose transitivity I focus.
Next I describe an impasse in the existing literature regarding the transitivity of normative explanation and briefly dismiss three possible ways out as insufficient. I then defend a novel proposal, which is based on the claim that at least some explanations of normative facts are subject to a certain kind of normative justification condition.
I briefly motivate this condition, and argue that its satisfaction may fail to transfer transitively along the kinds of explanatory chains that we find in the kind of examples on which I focus. The rest of the paper develops this proposal further by defending it against some worries and potential complications.