Normative Alethic Pluralism

  • Filippo Ferrari
Part of the Palgrave Innovations in Philosophy book series (PIIP)


The traditional debate about the norm connecting judgement and truth assumes a monistic conception (Normative Alethic Monism, NAM) where truth’s normative function is expressed by a single principle applicable to all judgements. I argue that NAM falls prey to a variation of the scope problem originally put forward by Michael Lynch against alethic (substantivist) monism. NAM is unable to account for an often-overlooked variability in the normative significance of enquiry-related phenomena such as disagreement. By means of examples from different areas of discourse, I show how the kind of normative reaction elicited by the presence of disagreement varies in relation to the subject matter. This kind of variability cannot be accounted for by NAM. In reply to this problem, I outline Normative Alethic Pluralism (NAP). NAP consists of two theses: (plurality) there is more than one way in which truth regulates judgement; (variability) the normative function that truth exerts on judgements varies in relation to the specific subject matter at issue. I argue that NAP is superior to NAM by showing that it helps dealing with the normative scope problem. Lastly, I scrutinise the explanatory relationships between NAP and pluralism about truth. I will argue that although the two pictures complement each other quite nicely, they are nonetheless independent.


Normativity Scope problem Disagreement Basic taste Refined aesthetics Morality Normative alethic monism Normative alethic pluralism Truth (alethic) pluralism 


  1. Chisholm, R. 1963. Supererogation and Offense: A Conceptual Scheme for. Ethics. Ratio 5: 1–14.Google Scholar
  2. Chrisman, M. 2016. Epistemic Normativity and Cognitive Agency. Noûs. Doi Scholar
  3. David, M. 2005. On Truth Is Good. Philosophical Books 46 (4): 292–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Driver, J. 1992. The Suberogatory. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 70 (3): 286–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dummett, M. 1959. Truth. Proceeding of the Aristotelian Society 59: 141–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ferrari, F. 2016a. Disagreement About Taste and Alethic Suberogation. The Philosophical Quarterly 66 (264): 516–535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. ———. 2016b. The Value of Minimalist Truth. Synthese. Doi Scholar
  8. ———. 2018. The Value of Minimalist Truth. Synthese 195 (3): 1103–1125. Scholar
  9. Ferrari, F., and S. Moruzzi. 2018. Ecumenical Alethic Pluralism. Canadian Journal of Philosophy.
  10. Ferrari, F., and C. Wright. 2017. Talking with Vultures. Mind 126 (503): 911–936.Google Scholar
  11. Gibbard, A. 2005. Truth and Correct Belief. Philosophical Issues 15: 338–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hazlett, A. 2013. A Luxury of the Understanding: On the Value of True Belief. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Horwich, P. 1998. Truth. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. ———. 2013. Belief-Truth Norms. In The Aim of Belief, ed. T. Chan, 17–31. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. James, W. 1975. Pragmatism and the Meaning of Truth. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Kvanvig, J. 2003. The Value of Knowledge and the Pursuit of Understanding. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Loewer, B. 1993. The Value of Truth. Philosophical Issues 4: 265–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lynch, M. 2005. True to Life. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  19. ———. 2009. Truth as One and Many. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. ———. 2013. Three Questions for Truth Pluralism. In Truth and Pluralism, ed. Nikolaj J.L.L. Pedersen and C.D. Wright, 21–41. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. MacFarlane, J. 2014. Assessment Sensitivity: Relative Truth and Its Applications. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. McHugh, C. 2012. The Truth Norm of Belief. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93: 8–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. ———. 2014. Fitting Belief. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 114 (2): 167–187.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McHugh, C., and J. Way. 2015. Fittingness First. Ethics 126 (3): 575–606.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Shah, N., and D. Velleman. 2005. Doxastic Deliberation. Philosophical Review 114 (4): 497–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sosa, E. 2015. Judgement and Agency. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Strawson, P. 1962. Freedom and Resentment. Proceedings of the British Academy 48: 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Thomson, J.J. 2008. Normativity. La Salle: Open Court.Google Scholar
  29. Turri, J. 2013. Knowledge and Suberogatory Assertion. Philosophical Studies 3: 1–11.Google Scholar
  30. Wedgwood, R. 2007. The Nature of Normativity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Williams, B. 1973. Problems of the Self. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Williams, R. 2012. Indeterminacy and Normative Silence. Analysis 72 (2): 217–225.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Williamson, T. 2000. Knowledge and Its Limits. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Wrenn, C. 2015. Truth. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  35. Wright, C. 1992. Truth and Objectivity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  36. ———. 1998. Truth: A Traditional Debate Reviewed. Canadian Journal of Philosophy Supplementary 28: 31–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Wyatt, J. 2018. Absolutely Tasty: An Examination of Predicates of Personal Taste and Faultless Disagreement. Inquiry 61 (3): 252–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Filippo Ferrari
    • 1
  1. 1.Universität BonnBonnGermany

Personalised recommendations