A number of authors have recently developed and defended various versions of ‘normative essentialism’ about the mental, i.e. the claim that propositional attitudes are constitutively or essentially governed by normative principles. I present two arguments to the effect that this claim cannot be right. First, if propositional attitudes were essentially normative, propositional attitude ascriptions would require non-normative justification, but since this is not a requirement of folk-psychology, propositional attitudes cannot be essentially normative. Second, if propositional attitudes were essentially normative, propositional attitude ascriptions could not support normative rationality judgments, which would remove the central appeal of normative essentialism.
Philosophical Studies, 2008, Vol 140, Issue 2, p. 263-283