Critical Normativity

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Critical Normativity

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Title: Critical Normativity
Author: Singer, Joseph William
Citation: Joseph W. Singer, Critical Normativity, 20 Law and Critique 27 (2009).
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Abstract: Skeptics argue that statements about right and wrong are merely expressions of preferences. They are mistaken; values are not the same as mere preferences. When we assert preferences that affect others, we justify our actions by giving reasons that we believe others should accept. When we evaluate those reasons, we typically reject certain preferences as illegitimate. Values are different from preferences because they entail demands we feel entitled to make of each other, after critical reflection. But this does not require us to become moral realists who base value judgments on the existence of moral facts. Critical normativity adopts the paradoxical stance that value judgments are based on human will but that they can be right or wrong. Human beings cannot live without strong normative claims but we are obligated to be careful about them. This article illustrates this stance by telling three parables of justice.
Published Version: doi:10.1007/s10978-008-9038-6
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at
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