If You're Quasi-Explaining, You're Quasi-Losing

Derek Clayton BAKER

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Normative discourse frequently involves explanation. For example, we tell children that hitting is wrong because it hurts people. In a recent paper, Selim Berker argues that to account for this kind of explanation, expressivists need an account of normative grounding. Against this, I argue that expressivists should eschew grounding and stick to a more pragmatic picture of explanation, one that focuses on how we use explanatory speech acts to communicate information. I propose that the standard form of a normative explanation is a generalizing explanation, one which shows a particular moral injunction to follow from a more general injunction. I use Marc Lange’s account of unifying explanations in mathematics as a model for the canonical form of a normative explanation, but also to establish that logical entailment can be explanatory, so long as premises entailing the conclusion answer appropriately to our interests. An additional upshot of the resulting view is that it paves the way for a purely metaphysical solution to the problem of creeping minimalism. Quasireal properties are those that, unlike real properties, stand outside of the metaphysical hierarchy of grounding relations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Studies in Metaethics
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780191923913, 9780192651853
ISBN (Print)9780191923913, 9780192651853, 9780191923913, 9780192651853, 9780192897466
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

The research of this paper was fully funded by a grant from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong SAR, China (Grant number LU13601218).

Thanks to audiences at the Explanatory in Philosophy Conference at Wuhan University and the 15th Annual Metaethics Workshop at University of Wisconsin, Madison. Special thanks to Selim Berker, Brad Cokelet, Jamie Dreier, Coline Klein, Michele Lubano, Matt Lutz, Timothy Perrine, Tristram McPherson, Pekka Vayrunen, Dan Waxman, Jack Woods, and two anonymous referees/


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