Normative Explanation and Justification
Normative explanations of why things are wrong, good, or unfair are ubiquitous in ordinary practice and moral, political, and legal theory. This paper argues that normative explanation is subject to a justification condition: a correct explanation of why a normative fact holds must identify features that go at least some way towards justifying certain actions or attitudes. This claim fits well with various metanormative views and with ordinary normative discourse. I also argue that although this justification condition might seem distinctive of normative explanation, it can be treated as reflecting certain general features of explanation, and thus doesn’t make normative explanation discontinuous with non-causal explanations in other domains. Thus the paper casts light not only on what kind of explanations first-order normative theories should be thought of as providing, but also on how normative explanation may be similar to and different from explanations in other domains.