Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 June 2021
This chapter takes up the question of what we must understand the world to be like if we regard moral judgments, or more generally normative judgments about how we ought to think or act, as not merely expressing attitudes of approval and disapproval, but instead as fundamentally aiming to get it right, to embody knowledge of how we should indeed comport ourselves. Then how are reasons for belief and action, which are thus the central object of their knowledge-claims, to be understood? What does it mean to say, what is entailed by saying, that they exist? This question is pursued by examining the writings of Derek Parfit and T. M. Scanlon. Both hold that normative judgments are true or false and are thus able to embody knowledge of the reasons there are. Yet both recoil from following through on the ontological implications of their views. Both fail to acknowledge the metaphysics that the objective existence of reasons really entails and that this chapter goes on to sketch.