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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: January 2012

Chapter 2 - Normativity and reasons: five arguments from Parfit against normative naturalism


This chapter considers five arguments against naturalism that have recently been proposed by Derek Parfit, and, following Parfit, by David McNaughton and Piers Rawling and Jonathan Dancy. It first explains that the debate between naturalists and non-naturalists is of philosophical interest chiefly because of the important background issue of explaining what it is for a property or fact to be normative. The author's account of the nature of normative moral facts and facts about practical reasons can be generalized to provide an account of all kinds of normative fact. He calls the generalized view pluralist-teleology. Pluralist-teleology is an example of non-analytic normative naturalism. The Normativity Objection seems to be Parfit's chief objection. The goal is to show that no natural fact can be normative in the reason-implying sense. Parfit offers three closely related arguments that turn on the idea of triviality, so this is really a family of arguments.