Philosophical Studies

, Volume 154, Issue 3, pp 325–348 | Cite as

Are normative properties descriptive properties?

Article

Abstract

Some philosophers think that normative properties are identical to descriptive properties. In this paper, I argue that this entails that it is possible to say which descriptive properties normative properties are identical to. I argue that Frank Jackson’s argument to show that this is possible fails, and that the objections to this argument show that it is impossible to say which descriptive properties normative properties are identical to. I conclude that normative properties are not identical to descriptive properties. I then show that if we combine this conclusion with the conclusion of a different argument that Jackson has given to show that there are no irreducibly normative properties, it follows that there are no normative properties at all.

Keywords

Metaethics Normative properties Descriptive properties Naturalism Frank Jackson 

Notes

Acknowledgements

For very helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper, I would like to thank Jonathan Dancy, Brian Feltham, Philip Goff, Hallvard Lillehammer, audiences in Reading and Birmingham, and two anonymous referees.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ReadingReadingUK

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