Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Nataliya Palatnik

Committee Members

Peter van Elswyk, Stanislaus Husi


Coherence, Humean constructivism, Metaethics, Practical reason, Pragmatics, Sharon Street


According to Humean constructivism in metaethics, there is no incoherence in holding that different agents should act on aims that are not co-possible. I will show that this commitment undermines Humean constructivists’ own treatment of normative judgments, where these judgments are meant to function both as prescriptions and assertions of fact. When ideally coherent Humeans engage others in conversation, their claims about others’ reasons to act function as imperatives rather than as assertions; conversely, when Humean reasoners think of those claims while deliberating on their own, they carry no prescriptive weight at all. In light of these issues, I propose that coherence in normative judgment should take into account the joint realizability of agents’ aims. To act on reasons involves acting on aims the agent thinks are worth pursuing. And actions whose aims are in conflict cannot be successfully performed together. I argue that where aims conflict, so do the prescriptions for acting on them.