The Aristotelian Society

The Aristotelian Society

est. 1880

Symposium V

Normative Dependence

Debbie Roberts | Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association | University of Edinburgh

Depending on the Thick

Debbie Roberts (Edinburgh)


The claim that the normative depends on the non-normative is just as entrenched in metanormative theory as the clam that the normative supervenes on the non-normative. It’s 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, conceptualise or represent what it is that we are supposed to be making normative judgments 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.


Debbie Roberts is Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. She works primarily on issues in ethics and metaethics. She received her PhD from the University of Reading in 2011.

Nick Zangwill | Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association | University of Edinburgh

Moral Thought and the Because Constraint

Nick Zangwill (Hull)


I explore the Because Constraint: the idea that moral facts depend on natural facts and that moral judgements ought to respect the dependence of moral facts on natural facts. I consider several issues concerning its clarification and importance.


Nick Zangwill is Ferens Professor at Hull University. He previously worked at the universities of Glasgow, Oxford and Durham. He was recently Visiting Professor at Osaka University, Padua University, Sao Paul University and UNICAMP. He is the author of The Metaphysics of Beauty (Cornell University Press 2001), Aesthetic Creation (Oxford University Press, 2007) and Music and Aesthetic Reality: Formalism and the Limits of Description (Routledge, 2015). He is also the author of many papers in metaethics, metaphysics, philosophy of mind and aesthetics.

further info


University of Edinburgh

14-16 July 2017

School of Philosophy
Psychology and Language Sciences
Dugald Stewart Building
3 Charles Street
Edinburgh, EH8 9AD

Local Organiser: Aidan McGlynn

Programme edited by Guy Longworth (Warwick)

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The 2016 Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association | Cardiff University

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