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The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 115, Issue 6, June 2018

Nicholas Shackel
Pages 281-312

Scope or Focus? Normative Focus and the Metaphysics of Normative Relations

A prolonged debate about the nature of norms has been conducted in terms of the scope of a modal operator. Here I argue that the features of what I call Normative Focus are more fundamental than scope. We shall see limitations of scope contrasted with better analysis in terms of Normative Focus. Some authors address such limitations by extending what they mean by scope. I show that scope is still not doing the work: what does it is their elicitation of our tacit knowledge of Normative Focus. Finally, I show that scope cannot capture Normative Focus because scope allows us to make only one distinction where we need to make three. So we should leave scope to the philosophers of language and turn instead to the ontology of Normative Focus.

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