From Reasons to Norms

From Reasons to Norms : On the Basic Question in Ethics

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Metaethics is the inquiry into the nature of morality (or ethics, I use the words 'morality', 'morals', and 'ethics' as synonyms). When we pass moral judgements, what kind of claims are we then making? I speak of this as the semantic metaethical question. a re there moral facts, to be discovered by us and existing independently of our thoughts and conceptualisation? I speak of this as the ontological or me- physical metaethical question. a nd, if there are, can we know about them; and, if we can, how do we get this kind of knowledge? I speak of this as the epistemic metaethical question. a ll these metaethical questions, the semantic, the ontological, and the epistemic ones, are raised and discussed in this book, but they are not the core questions raised. I have been more concerned with another kind of questions, which deserve to be called metaethical as well: what are the problems of morality? a re there many different moral questions, or, do they all, in the final analysis, reduce to only a few, or perhaps just one? t his question is of special importance to a non-naturalist objectivist and realist like the present author, who believes that we do make truth-claims when we pass moral judgements and who believes that there is a truth in these matters so that we must face the possibility that even our most cherished moral judgements may be false.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 168 pages
  • 155 x 235 x 9.91mm | 290g
  • Dordrecht, Netherlands
  • English
  • 2010 ed.
  • XVI, 168 p.
  • 9400731493
  • 9789400731493

Back cover copy

This book originated from a discussion between the author, Derek Parfit and Wlodek Rabinowicz, and further developed in correspondence and intense discussions with Wlodek Rabinowics and John Broome. The author disputes the recent trend in metaethics that focuses on reasons rather than norms. The reader is invited to take a new look at the traditional metaethical questions of moral semantics, ontology, and epistemology.

The author mainly concerns himself with particular aspects of these problems: Which are the problems of morality? Are there many different moral questions, or, do they all, in the final analysis, reduce to one? The bold claim made in this book is that there is just one: What ought to be done? Moreover, there is just one source of normativity, just one kind of 'ought'-question, which lends itself to an objectively correct and authoritative answer.
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Table of contents

Acknowledgements Preface Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter 2: The Humean Notion of Practical Reasons Chapter 3: The Moral (Normative) Notion of Practical Reasons Chapter 4: In Defense of Moral Realism Chapter 5: Some Consequences of Moral Realism Chapter 6: Reasons from Prudence and Rationality Chapter 7: Reasons from Justice and Aesthetics Chapter 8: Reasons to Believe Chapter 9: Reasons to Desire Chapter 10: Conclusion References Index
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