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abstract I consider the putative originality of applied philosophy and seek to defend a version of it often called ‘bottom up’. I review ways in which imagined cases may cause us to reconsider our normative commitments, and endorse a general attentiveness to the matter of how the world is and how it might reasonably be imagined. This is important if practical philosophers want to form the correct normative judgements, to be able to recognize the sui generis character of some moral theorising in particular domains, practically to enact their considered judgments, and properly to acknowledge how the real world, in the form of institutions, practices and a cultural framework, constrains, or facilitates, practical enactment. Throughout I illustrate my abstract claims by reference to the moral judgement and legal regulation of sexual behaviour.