Philosophical Studies

, Volume 173, Issue 12, pp 3235–3254

Against deliberative indispensability as an independent guide to what there is


DOI: 10.1007/s11098-016-0661-z

Cite this article as:
Cline, B. Philos Stud (2016) 173: 3235. doi:10.1007/s11098-016-0661-z


David Enoch has recently proposed that the deliberative indispensability of irreducibly normative facts suffices to support their inclusion in our ontology, even if they are not necessary for the explanation of any observable phenomena. He challenges dissenters to point to a relevant asymmetry between explanation and deliberation that shows why explanatory indispensability, but not deliberative indispensability, is a legitimate guide to ontology. In this paper, I aim to do just that. Given that an entity figures in the actual explanation of some phenomenon, it is not an open question whether that entity exists. Thus, if you can manage to find actual explanations, you can find answers to ontological questions. In contrast, even if some entity is indispensable to deliberation, it still might not exist. For example, even if some form of libertarian free will is deliberatively indispensable, we still might not have libertarian free will. So even if you manage to discover the indispensable commitments of deliberation, there is still more work to do to get to the bottom of things. That additional work is explanatory work, and so deliberative indispensability is not an independent guide to what there is.


Moral explanations Nonnaturalism Robust realism David Enoch Deliberative indispensability Normative facts 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity at Buffalo, SUNYBuffaloUSA

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