In “Pre-Conventions. A Fragment of the Background”, Celano argues that there are ways of acting that can be called “conventions” which are, literally, normative facts. There are a number of interesting claims in Celano’s paper about the nature of these conventions, and showing that they amount to normative facts is only part of his strategy for establishing their significance. But given that the question of whether there are normative facts deserves a treatment of its own, the paper inquires whether Celano’s account of normative facts (whether conventional or not) is plausible. It then makes three claims. First, it claims that Celano’s account of normative facts is in need of clarification. Amongst other reasons, there is no proper characterisation of either the concept of fact or of the concept of norm. Second, the paper claims that, under a relatively acceptable way of understanding facts and norms, Celano’s argument in favour of normative facts needs to be completed. But if the argument is completed by appealing to the general philosophical outlook which Celano seems inclined to employ (Searle’s), the argument reaches a point where it becomes unstable. This does not, of course, mean that the project should be abandoned. An argument within the same line of thought may be available. But the prospect seems uninviting. So, thirdly, the paper proposes a sketch of an alternative, Kantian-like conception of normative facts based on an argument put forward by Christine Korsgaard.
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