The concept of normativity, and the place of reasons, has attracted a great deal of attention in recent philosophy. Work has focused on many, interrelated topics such as:
- Reasons and their Ground: Are reasons based on agents’ desires and psychology or on matters external to the agent?
- Conceptual Priority: Is ‘reason’ the foundational normative concept, as opposed to ‘ought’, ‘rational’, or something else?
- Reasons, Motivations and Actions: What is the relation (or relations) between reasons, motivation and action? There is much focus on prescriptions and demands, but how should we characterize enticements?
- Reasons and Values: What is the relation between values and reasons? Is one more fundamental than the other and, if so, why?
- Reasons and Nature: Are reasons in any relevant sense ‘natural’, or do we have to give up on naturalism if we are to accommodate the normativity of reasons?
- The Moral and the Epistemic: A notable feature of recent work on normativity is the focus on, and interaction between, ethics and epistemology, as well as on prudence. Work by both moral philosophers and epistemologists has increasingly drawn on ideas and arguments in both fields, not only to answer questions within ethics and epistemology, but also to understand normativity more generally.
The central question we asked in this conference is: where do we go from here?
The Future of Normativity served to reflect on much of this recent work in order to extend it in new directions, in two ways: both raising and answering questions above in new ways, and by suggesting and explore new directions in which thought about normativity might go, including directions that may begin from us thinking outside the usual suspects of moral philosophy and epistemology. Possible topics included:
- Has work in aesthetics or philosophy of action or philosophy of language anything to teach us about normativity?
- Does it make sense to think of aesthetic prescriptions, for example, and if so what does reflection on these demands tell us about normativity in general?
- Has recent work on group intention and action anything to teach us about normativity and reasons in general?
- Are certain, central notions – such as standard, intention, demand – at all clear enough?
We hope that The Future of Normativity was a landmark event: it reflected on where we are, and floated new ideas for future work. As well as our seven keynote speakers, we had around 60 speakers in open sessions, from a number of different countries, focusing on a huge range of topics.
We were very pleased to welcome you all in Canterbury in June.