In a recent comment KN wrote:
Where we really disagree, though, is about how to conceive of the relation between norm-governed practices and principles. On your view, I take it, the principles have some sort of priority, and the practices are justified (or not) in light of those principles. On my view, the principles are just explications of what is already implicitly at work within the epistemic and moral practices themselves.
So we can appeal to various principles as tools for articulating what it is that we are committed to, and hence they are valuable tools for critically reflecting on and revising those practices, but they cannot endow our practices with any more authority than those practices already and implicitly have, nor can the principles explain just why it is that the practices have any implicit authority.
(emphasis in the original; it is unclear why KN insists on emphasis on words that begin with “e” 😉 )
Let’s see how KN’s theory works with a little imagined back and forth:
Barry: Genocide is evil.
KN. By all means I agree.
Barry: Genocide is evil because it violates the self-evident, objective and transcendent moral principle “You shall not murder.”
KN. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Our prohibition on genocide is a norm-governed practice. You say that practice is justified on the basis of a principle, namely the principle “you shall not murder,” but your principle is simply a valuable tool for critically reflecting on and revising our prohibition on genocide. It does not, however, endow our prohibition on genocide with any more authority than it already implicitly has. Nor can the principle “you shall not murder” explain why our prohibition on genocide has any implicit moral authority.
Barry: You say that the principle “you shall not murder” cannot endow our prohibition on genocide with moral authority or explain why our prohibition on genocide has any implicit moral authority. That it not true. Indeed, it is exactly the opposite of the truth. Our prohibition on genocide is either based on the self-evident, objective and transcendent moral principle “you shall not murder” or it is based on no principle at all. And if it is based on no principle at all, then it is arbitrary and therefore subject to the whims of those with power.
Let me ask you this KN: Suppose I were the only person in the world who believed genocide is evil. Would I be right and everyone else wrong?
KN: [I will let KN answer that question himself]