DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L135-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2001
Retrieved April 21, 2021, from

5. Vindicating ethical normativity

Although debates about the normativity of morality have been especially prominent, any evaluative or ethical claim has normative purport. All ethical claims invite the question of whether they actually have the normativity they purport to have and are ripe, therefore, for vindicating or debunking arguments. As with the normativity of morality, how convincing these latter arguments are ultimately depends on a theory of the ‘source’ of the relevant normativity. How, for example, might one vindicate the normativity of claims of virtue and vice? First, we need to ask the analytic question of what normativity virtue-claims purport to have. Is it that certain traits are especially suited to a flourishing life? Then how are we to understand the normativity of flourishing? Is this to be understood in Aristotelian, teleological terms, as a life that best realises a human telos – an end that is somehow part of human nature (see Telos)? If so, how can such a conception be made out and claims of virtue and vice appropriately related to it? Is it that certain traits are ones we ought to esteem? Then how we are we to vindicate that claim? What could give anything the normative status of something we ought to esteem? Does some answer to this question derive from an account of morality’s normativity? Or are there norms for esteem that are independent of morality? If so, how are they to be vindicated and what theory of the sources of normativity do they presuppose?

Citing this article:
Darwall, Stephen. Vindicating ethical normativity. Normativity, 2001, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L135-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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