We will be holding a two-day workshop on

Relevance, Grounding, and Normativity

The workshop will take place

  • on 8-9 October 2020.
  • online via Zoom.


Thursday, 8 October

  • 9.45 – 10.00 Welcome
  • 10.00 – 11.15 Pekka Väyrynen (University of Leeds): Moral Theories, Relevance, and Explanation
  • 11.30 – 12.45 Shlomit Wygoda Cohen (Polonsky Academy Fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute): Grounding Objectivity vs. Mind Independence: Two Kinds of Objectivism
  • 13.45 – 15.00 Singa Behrens (University of Hamburg): No Normative Free Lunch: Relevance and the Autonomy of the Normative Domain
  • 15.15 – 16.30 Ralf Bader (Université de Fribourg): Meta-ethical Robustness

Friday, 9 October

  • 10.00 – 11.15 Johannes Korbmacher (Utrecht University): Truthmakers, deontic logic, and grounding.
  • 11.30 – 12.45 Jack Woods (University of Leeds): Ethical Autonomy Done Right
  • 13.45 – 15.00 Alessandra Marra (Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich): The Enkratic Principle of Rationality


“Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” (Euthyphro, 10a) 

In yet another footnote to Plato, this workshop investigates whether there is work for a theory of grounding in metaethics. Questions of interest include (but are not limited to): How is the normative related to the descriptive, non-normative realm? Are normative facts fully grounded in descriptive facts and if so, do the descriptive facts constitute a reduction base? Which facts are relevant for the evaluation of acts, persons, etc. and why are they relevant? Are there good- or wrong-making features? The contributions to this workshop will put the nature of the normative under scrutiny especially focusing on grounding and the concept of relevance.

Abstracts for Keynotes

Pekka Väyrynen, Moral Theories, Relevance, and Explanation

This talk is about the explanatory structure of moral theories. I’ll focus in particular on exploring the prospects of a certain kind of two-level structure.

Shlomit Wygoda Cohen, Grounding Objectivity vs. Mind Independence: Two Kinds of Objectivism.

In this talk I argue that we should distinguish two characterizations of objectivism: Grounding Objectivism and Mind Independence Objectivism. I focus on the debate in metaethics, although the distinction may generally apply to others. According to Grounding Objectivism, moral standards are not grounded in any mind, while according to Mind Independence Objectivism, moral standards hold regardless of any mind’s attitudes, either as grounds or in any other way. Despite its importance this distinction has so far not been noticed in the literature. I argue that this distinction helps elucidate otherwise puzzling metaethical positions (most notably, fitting attitude theories of value and Karsgaard’s voluntarism).

Singa Behrens, No Normative Free Lunch: Relevance and the Autonomy of the Normative Domain

Descriptive and normative statements seem to be of categorically different kinds which motivates the claim that the normative domain is autonomous with respect to the descriptive domain. An intuitive formulation of the autonomy thesis states that we cannot get a normative statement from purely descriptive statements. It has turned out to be difficult to offer a formulation of that claim that is not subject to counterexamples. I offer such a formulation by appealing to a concept of normative relevance. The potential counterexamples to an autonomy thesis share the feature that the descriptive premises are not relevant to the distinctively normative parts of the conclusion. I give a precise definition of the concepts of normative relevance and normative parts within truthmaker based semantics. I then show that the resulting relevant autonomy thesis avoids the counterexamples and has significant advantages compared to the interpretation of the autonomy thesis recently suggested by Maguire (2015).

Ralf Bader, Meta-ethical Robustness


Johannes Korbmacher, Truthmakers, deontic logic, and grounding.

In this talk, I’ll review some applications of truthmaker semantics in deontic logic to solve problems surrounding free choice permission, conflicting obligations, Ross’ paradox, etc. First, I’ll give a brief exposition of what I think are the main technical results we have obtained so far. Then, I’ll try to draw some philosophical conclusions from this: I’ll use Fine’s truthmaker semantics for ground to extract deontic grounding claims from the truthmaker semantics for deontic logic and then use the intuitive plausibility of those claims to judge the proposed solutions.

Jack Woods, Ethical Autonomy Done Right

Alessandra Marra, The Enkratic Principle of Rationality

Suppose I believe sincerely and with conviction that today I ought to repay my friend Ann the 10 euro that she lent me. But I do not make any plan for repaying my debt: Instead, I arrange to spend my entire day at the Hamburger Stadtpark, sipping Weißbier and enjoying the autumn chill. This seems wrong. Enkrasia is the principle of rationality that rules out the above situation. More specifically, by (an interpretation of) the Enkratic principle, rationality requires that if an agent sincerely and with conviction believes she ought to X, then X-ing is a goal in her plan. This principle plays a central role within the domain of practical rationality, and has recently been receiving considerable attention in practical philosophy (see the seminal Broome 2013). In this presentation, I want to analyze the logical structure of Enkrasia in light of the interpretation just described. To this end, I elaborate on the distinction between so-called “basic oughts” and “derived oughts”, and provide a multi-modal neighborhood logic with three characteristic operators: A non-normal operator for “basic oughts”, a non-normal operator for “goals in plans”, and a normal operator for “derived oughts”. Furthermore, special attention will be devoted to the dynamic relation between those notions. I will present a dynamic extension of the logic, and discuss its repercussions to debates surrounding the validity of Enkrasia, and the stability of oughts and goals.
Based on a joint work with Dominik Klein (U. Utrecht).


We gratefully acknowledge the financial support provided by the DFG through Stephan Kraemer’s Emmy Noether grant (KR 4516/2-1).