Philosophy Research Seminar - Professor Pekka Vayrynen

17 October 2019, 2.00 PM - 17 October 2019, 3.30 PM

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. 

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