Why believe in normative supervenience?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


According to many, that the normative supervenes on the non-normative is a truism of normative discourse. This chapter argues that those committed to more specific moral, aesthetic, and epistemic supervenience theses should also hold (NS*): As a matter of conceptual necessity, whenever something has a normative property, it has a base property or collection of base properties that metaphysically necessitates the normative one. The main aim in this chapter is to show that none of the available arguments establish (NS*), or indeed the relevant epistemic, aesthetic, and moral supervenience theses. (NS*) is not a conceptual truth. This has considerable dialectical importance. One interesting upshot is that it affords non-reductivists and non-naturalists a novel way of resisting certain prominent supervenience-based objections to their views, including objections that formulate supervenience as a purely metaphysical thesis.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Studies in Metaethics
EditorsRuss Shafer-Landau
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9780191862625, 9780192557162
ISBN (Print)9780198823841
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2018

Publication series

NameOxford Studies in Metaethics
PublisherOxford University Press


  • normative supervenience
  • normative grounding
  • non-naturalism
  • non-reductivism
  • thick concepts
  • irreducible thickness

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