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What is a theory of normative concepts for?

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    Rights statement: This article has been published in a revised form in Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 86 (Supplement to "Philosophy"). https://doi.org/10.1017/S1358246119000079. This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © The Royal Institute of Philosophy and the contributors 2019.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-85
VolumeRoyal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 86
Early online date18 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


This paper compares and contrasts two recent approaches to the theory of normative concepts with each other and with more traditional theories in metaethics, in order to highlight several different projects one could be engaged in when developing a theory of normative concepts. The two accounts derive from Millgram, The Great Endarkenment (Oxford University Press, 2015) and Chrisman The Meaning of ‘Ought’ (Oxford University Press, 2016). These accounts share in rejecting traditional attempts to explain what ‘ought’ is about or expresses. Instead these accounts treat ‘ought’ as a quantificational word. However, the nature and range of the quantification are importantly different in the two accounts, which impacts on the ways in which the accounts integrate with the various projects one could be engaged in when developing a theory of normative concepts.

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