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I— Depending on the thick

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    Rights statement: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Aristotelian Society following peer review. The version of record Debbie Roberts; I—Depending on the Thick. Aristot Soc Suppl Vol 2017; 91 (1): 197-220. doi: 10.1093/arisup/akx006 is available online at:https://academic.oup.com/aristoteliansupp/article-lookup/doi/10.1093/arisup/akx006.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-220
JournalAristotelian Society - Supplementary Volume
Issue number1
Early online date28 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


The claim that the normative depends on the non-normative is just as entrenched in metanormative theory as the clam that the normative supervenes on the non-normative. It’s widely held to be a genuine truism, a conceptual truth that operates as a constraint on competence with normative concepts. Call it the dependence constraint. I argue that this status is unwarranted. While it is true that the normative is dependent it is not a genuine truism, or a conceptual truth, that it depends on the non-normative. I argue for the following inadequacy claim: that when we cull all the normative terms from our language, and so the concepts that they stand for, what we will be left with will not necessarily be sufficient to adequately describe, conceptualise or represent what it is that we are supposed to be making normative judgments in virtue of. This has implications for both ascriptive and metaphysical understandings of the dependence constraint, and the potential to radically reshape the dialectic in metanormative theory.

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