Direct moral grounding and the legal model of moral normativity

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Whereas most moral philosophers believe that the facts as to what we’re morally required to do are grounded by the facts about our moral reasons, which in turn are grounded by non-normative facts, I propose that moral requirements are directly grounded by non-normative facts. This isn’t, however, to say that there is no place in the picture for moral reasons. Moral reasons exist, and they’re grounded by moral requirements. Arguing for this picture of the moral sphere requires playing both offense and defense; this article provides the defense. I defend this view against the objections (1) that it must deny that one is generally blameworthy for having violated a moral requirement, (2) that it implies the existence of genuine moral dilemmas, (3) that it runs counter to an obviously true view of how moral deliberation should work, and (4) that it cannot explain why it feels as though figuring about what one is morally required to do often takes the form of thinking about what one’s moral reasons are.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703 - 716
JournalEthical Theory and Moral Practice
Issue number4
Early online date30 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


  • Moral reasons
  • Moral requirements
  • Grounding
  • Blameworthiness
  • Moral deliberation
  • Reasons-first


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