The Deontic, the Evaluative, and the Fitting



The evaluative categories—goodness, badness, betterness, and the like—and the deontic categories—requiredness, permittedness, forbiddenness, and the like—are separate families of normative categories, each with its own distinctive logic, structure, and basis. I argue that there is a third family of normative categories beyond these familiar two, with its own special logic, structure, and basis, namely the fitting. This family includes properties and relations picked out by terms such as ‘fitting’, ‘apt’, ‘merited’, ‘warranted’, and ‘justified’, as well as certain adjectives ending in ‘-able’ (e.g. ‘admirable’), ‘-ible’ (e.g. ‘credible’), ‘-ing’ (e.g. ‘annoying’), ‘-ive’ (e.g. ‘persuasive’), ‘-ful’ (e.g. ‘shameful’), and ‘-worthy’ (e.g. ‘blameworthy’). Acknowledging the distinctiveness of fittingness as a type of normative category changes how we think about the foundations of ethics and other normative disciplines. Instead of asking, “Is the good prior to the right, or the right prior to the good?” we should be asking, “What are the priority relations among the right, the good, and the fitting?”

Last updated on 07/23/2021