Abstract

Gender-based wage discrimination is wrong because it is arbitrary. Eating dark chocolate is good in virtue of how it is pleasurable and healthy. These are normative explanations, where the wrongness or goodness of something is non-causally explained. I'll argue that normative explanations don't satisfy transitivity in an important range of cases. I first articulate the claim of transitivity failure, focusing on cases where a normative explanation is threaded with an explanation of the lower-level facts cited in the normative explanation by an application of transitivity, and state my working hypothesis: normative explanation has a distinctive justificatory function that may fail to transfer through applications of standard transitivity principles. I briefly consider one attempt to account for the transitivity failure intuition. I then distinguish different sorts of explanation that may be involved in the cases I consider, and argue that the sort relevant to normative explanation doesn't satisfy transitivity precisely because of considerations having to do with normative justification. I'll then identify a modified transitivity principle which isn't violated in the cases I consider, but only because it doesn't apply.