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« Ethics Discussions at PEA Soup: Alexander Guerrero on Marie Collins Swabey's "Publicity and Measurement" | Main | Normative Necessity and Normative Knowledge »

February 09, 2015

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Hi Ralph

thanks for this - very interesting. Just a couple of quick comments:

A) I wasn't sure whether you wanted to draw from the conclusion that Fine's argument to the conclusion that normative necessity is distinct from metaphysical necessity fails a further conclusion that normative necessity really is metaphysical necessity. It seems to me that, even if the failure of this argument means that as far as this argument is concerned normative necessity can be a form of metaphysical necessity, it would be still be nice to have positive reasons for thinking that it is. I wasn't sure whether there were such positive reasons here apart from the rhetorical questions.

2. I have a guess of what might be going on in Fine's argument. Maybe he is thinking that normativity is always a relational property - that is, what is normative is something like a reason relation between a fact and an act (and properties like badness can be reduced to such relations). He might be then thinking that metaphysical necessities in 1 that are based on the essence of a thing must be monadic, non-relational intrinsic properties any duplicate would share no matter what relations it was in. This would be a reason to think that normative properties as relational properties are not a part of the metaphysical necessities. My inclination to resist this argument would be to argue that relational properties, especially dispositional ones, can be a part of a thing's essence.

You seem to accept Fine's assumption,“It is no part of what it is to be pain that it should be bad", otherwise there would be no problem to solve with the example. Could you say something about why we should accept this? Isn't it plausible to say that pain is a thick concept denoting certain kinds of feeling that are, in at least one way, bad for the creature experiencing them?

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