Date of Award

May 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Luca Ferrero

Committee Members

Stanislaus Husi, Andrea Westlund


A recent family of views known as constitutivism represents a novel attempt to ground metaethics in the nature of action. A key move constitutivists make is to ground “normative authority” in the nature of our practical commitments – or, in other words, in the inescapability of a practical point of view. In the following paper, I argue that normative authority can emerge from inescapability, and articulate the strongest form of this constitutivist strategy – one that sees the aim of action as self-understanding. I then explore a recent set of objections that claims talk of “inescapability” cannot get us normative authority. The upshot of this view is that any constitutivist strategy not supplemented by a traditional metaethical account will give us contingent and non-normatively authoritative aims. I argue that such contingency worries are largely toothless. Noting, however, that the worries do capture the problematically thin nature of the norms we can derive from a constitutivist project, I sketch a solution. I show that we can transform the constitutivist view into a constructivist metaethical account and that this provides the metaethical substance constitutivism might otherwise lack. Finally, I complete this metaethical project by showing what moral reasoning will look like, and how it is justified for the metaethical constructivist.

Included in

Philosophy Commons