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Symposium VI – Foundations of Normativity
Errol Lord (Pennsylvania) & Conor McHugh (Southampton)

2022 Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association

Birkbeck & The institute of Philosophy, University of London

7–9 July 2023

Symposium VI – Foundations of Normativity

Version 2

Errol Lord


Everything First


Conor McHugh


Attitudes & the Normativity of Fittingness


Normative theory aims to understand the commonalities between ethics, prudence, epistemology, aesthetics, and political philosophy (among others). One central question in normative theory is what is fundamental to the normative. The Reasons First approach holds that normative reasons are fundamental to the normative domain. This view has been challenged by proponents of alternative X-first views such as value, fittingness, and ought. This paper examines the debate about the analysis of normative reasons and argues for a new form of reductive naturalism that analyzes normative reasons in terms of fittingness, ought, and value. I argue that this view is compatible with Reasons First because fittingness and the type of ought and value appealed to are not robustly normative notions. It is also extensionally and explanatorily plausible and thus has much to recommend it on both first-order and second-order grounds.

What is the structure of normative reality? According to X First, normativity has a monistic foundationalist structure: there is a unique normatively basic property in terms of which all the other normative properties are analysed. The main aim of this paper is to defend Fittingness First, or something close to it, focusing in particular on the questions whether and why fittingness is normative.


Errol Lord is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania. His works on issues in ethical theory, epistemology, the philosophies of mind and action, and aesthetics. He is the author of The Importance of Being Rational and many papers appearing in journals such as MindPhilosophy and Phenomenological ResearchOxford Studies in Metaethics, British Journal of Aesthetics and Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics. He is currently finishing a book for Oxford University Press called Knowing the Normative World: On the Epistemologies of Ethics and Aesthetics

Conor McHugh is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Southampton. He has worked on a range of topics in epistemology, value theory, and philosophy of mind. He is the co-author, with Jonathan Way, of Getting Things Right: Fittingness, Reasons, and Value (OUP, 2022).