Res Philosophica

Volume 91, Issue 4, October 2014

Moral Nonnaturalism

Christopher Cowie
Pages 661-679

A New Explanatory Challenge for Nonnaturalists

According to some contemporary nonnaturalists about normativity (e.g., Parfit, Scanlon, Dworkin), normative facts exist in an ontologically non-committing sense. These nonnaturalists face an explanatory burden. They must explain their claim that normative facts exist in such a sense. I identify criteria for an adequate explanation, and extract five distinct candidate explanations from the writings of these authors (based on causal efficacy, analogy with modality, fundamentality, domain-relativity and first-order considerations respectively). I assess each. None is both (a) informative and (b) recognizable as a version of contemporary nonnaturalism. In light of this, I assess the best options for proponents of this view.