Descriptive Vs Normalative
Descriptive Claim: Claim about what is the case
Normative Claim: Claim about how things should be.
Examples of Descriptive Claims: Whales are fish, Obama is the president of USA
Example of Normative Claims: -Eat a lot of leafy greens, It is wrong to break a promise when
keeping it is inconvenient
They can be true, false or debatable(ie: Salsa vs Ketchup)
-Morality is a normative Domain about how things ought to be or how one should act.
Normative Epistemic Claims: Claims about what one should believe, how one ought to
reason(epistemic = concerning knowledge). Claims about how one ought to reason.
Epistemic Claims: Concerns knowledge
Moral claims are:
a) Normative rather than descriptive: they concern how things outht to be, rather than how things
b) They are a particular kind of normative claim. Not all normative claims
How can we investigate Moral Questions?
-Chief tool cannot be experiment or observation
-We cannot settle normative questions empirically
-We cannot infer normative claim from a purely descriptive claim and cannot go from “is to
-Psychologu, sociology, anthropology: can describe not only how people behave but also what
people believe about how they ought to behave
For Example: Sociologists might be able to tell us while 90% of Canadians eat meat, ony 70%
beliee that eating meat is morally ok.
-But this, by itself, does not tell us if it is morally ok, only what people believe about these
topics. -We cannot investigate these questions empirically, but can give arguments that start from
uncontroversial and try to reason from them with more controversial claims.
What is an argument? Not a fight but propositions justifiying a conclusion, the proposition the
argument is trying to establish or justify
An argument contains premises and a conclusion,
Example: One should not cause tremendous pain just for one’s own amusement. Putting kittings
in boiling water causes them tremensndous pain. One should not put kittens in boiling water just
for one’s own amusement.
Two Ways an Argument can Go Wrong.
2-Falty inferences: moves an argument makes from the premises