Abstract

The claim that the normative depends on the non-normative is just as entrenched in metanormative theory as the claim that the normative supervenes on the non-normative. It is widely held to be a genuine truism, a conceptual truth that operates as a constraint on competence with normative concepts. Call it the dependence constraint. I argue that this status is unwarranted. While it is true that the normative is dependent, it is not a genuine truism, or a conceptual truth, that it depends on the non-normative. I argue for the following inadequacy claim: that when we cull all the normative terms from our language, and so the concepts that they stand for, what we will be left with will not necessarily be sufficient to adequately describe, conceptualize or represent what it is that we are supposed to be making normative judgements in virtue of. This has implications for both ascriptive and metaphysical understandings of the dependence constraint, and the potential to radically reshape the dialectic in metanormative theory.

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