Paper: “On Humean Explanation and Practical Normativity”, Graham Hubbs

Prof. Graham Hubbs (University of Idaho) sent us his latest paper, published in the spring 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Philosophical Association. It can be found here.


If Hume is correct that the descriptive and the normative are ‘entirely different’ matters, then it would seem to follow that endorsing a given account of action-explanation does not restrict the account of practical normativity one may simultaneously endorse. In this essay, I challenge the antecedent of this conditional by targeting its consequent. Specifically, I argue that if one endorses a Humean account of action-explanation, which many find attractive, one is thereby committed to a Humean account of practical normativity, which many find unattractive. The key to this argument is showing that the justificatory base of any anti-Humean normative view is a generic representation of ideal rationality, which precludes any such view from combining coherently with a Humean account of action-explanation. If my arguments are successful, they demonstrate a way in which one’s views in action theory can both limit and be limited by the ethical views one endorses.