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On Humean Explanation and Practical Normativity


If Hume is correct that the descriptive and the normative are ‘entirely different’ matters, then it would seem to follow that endorsing a given account of action-explanation does not restrict the account of practical normativity one may simultaneously endorse. In this essay, I challenge the antecedent of this conditional by targeting its consequent. Specifically, I argue that if one endorses a Humean account of action-explanation, which many find attractive, one is thereby committed to a Humean account of practical normativity, which many find unattractive. The key to this argument is showing that the justificatory base of any anti-Humean normative view is a generic representation of ideal rationality, which precludes any such view from combining coherently with a Humean account of action-explanation. If my arguments are successful, they demonstrate a way in which one's views in action theory can both limit and be limited by the ethical views one endorses.

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Journal of the American Philosophical Association
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