Quietism and Counter-Normativity

  • Andrew Sepielli (University of Toronto)


Meta-ethical quietists hold that only ethically-relevant considerations may bear on which ethical views to accept. Since the metaphysics of moral properties, the semantics of moral terms, and so forth, are generally not ethically relevant, they generally do not bear on whether to accept any particular ethical view, whether to drop our ethical beliefs wholesale, and so on. The quietist, then, rejects “external” or “sideways-on” vindications of ethics and ethical objectivity. In recent years, David Enoch (2011) and Tristram McPherson (2011) have offered an objection to quietist objectivism that turns this insistence on abjuring “external” vindications against the theory. They imagine alternative, “counter-normative” standards that conflict with ours—a standard of what we have “schmeason” to do, for instance, rather than what we have reason to do. To vindicate ethical objectivity, one would have to show why the “reasons”-standard is somehow privileged over the “schmeasons” standard. Enoch and McPherson argue that quietism cannot step outside the discourse of “reasons” in the way that’d be required to show this. In this paper, I explain how the quietist ought to respond to the “counternormativity” challenge.

How to Cite:

Sepielli, A., (2021) “Quietism and Counter-Normativity”, Ergo 7. doi:

Download PDF
View PDF



Published on
22 Oct 2021
Peer Reviewed