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Louise Hanson (Oxford)
How to be an Epistemic Constitutivist

2023 | 2024


MONDAY, 20 may 2024

18.00 - 19.45



Louise Hanson is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford. She has written on a variety of topics in metaethics, aesthetics, and meta-aesthetics. She is particularly interested in the realism-antirealism debate and comparisons across different normative domains with respect to that debate. She is currently writing a book arguing for robust realism about beauty, titled Not in the Eye of the Beholder.


Constitutivism has been widely discussed in both metaethics and epistemology. In this paper I argue that it has been misunderstood in a number of key ways. I argue that a hallmark of constitutive norms is a particular kind of escapability – what I will call Jurisdictional Escapability. I argue that jurisdictional escapability is the key to whether constitutivism is a good fit or a potentially awkward one, in a given domain. Jurisdictional escapability is often run together with a different kind of escapability – which I will call Normative Escapability. But clearly distinguishing these, has significant upshots both for the normative landscape generally, and for constitutivism. First, it reveals that constitutivism is a particularly good fit for epistemic norms, and not such a good fit for moral ones. Second, it reveals that constitutivism is not, as is often thought, an antirealist position, and is in fact entirely compatible with robust realism. Third, it introduces a new dimension of precision into the normative landscape.

Meeting Address

Senate House, University of London, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU.

meeting time

The Society’s philosophy talks take place every fortnight on Mondays throughout the academic year. Each talk starts at 18.00 and lasts for approximately an hour. The remainder of the time is dedicated to discussion, which ends at 19.45.


All of the Society’s philosophy talks are catered with fairtrade teas, coffees, and biscuits.


In line with the Society’s mission to make philosophy readily available to the general public, all talks are free and membership is not required.

Draft Papers

Following over a century of tradition, draft papers for all the talks are available in advance. Please note that draft papers can only be cited with the authors permission (see below for final publication and subscription details). The draft paper for a talk is available approximately one week prior to its schedule delivery.

Final Papers

For the past 142 years, the Proceedings has featured widely respected papers delivered by a range of prominent philosophers, such as Alfred North Whitehead, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell, A.J. Ayer, P.F. Strawson, Karl Popper, Elizabeth Anscombe, Bernard Williams, Hubert Dreyfus, Alexander Nehamas, and Onora O’Neill. Final drafts of the papers – including discussion notes and exemplary graduate papers – are published in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society.


The venue at Senate House is wheelchair accessible and there are disabled toilet facilities on the ground floor. If you require a disabled parking space, or a hearing loop, please contact in advance, so that we can reserve these for you. Service animals are also welcome.