Do customs compete with conditioning? Turf battles and division of labor in social explanation

Synthese 184 (3):407-430 (2012)
We often face a bewildering array of different explanations for the same social facts (e.g. biological, psychological, economic, and historical accounts). But we have few guidelines for whether and when we should think of different accounts as competing or compatible. In this paper, I offer some guidelines for understanding when custom or norm accounts do and don’t compete with other types of accounts. I describe two families of non-competing accounts: (1) explanations of different (but similarly described) facts, and (2) accounts which seem to differ but are really different parts or versions of the same underlying explanation. I argue that, while many types of apparent competitors don’t really compete with customs, there are some that do. I also describe some of the central problems, which suggest that custom accounts will compete poorly with their rivals.
Keywords Explanation  Causation  Levels  Custom  Norm  Social science  Disjunction
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-010-9794-3
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,707
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 32 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Eric Barnes (1994). Explaining Brute Facts. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1994:61 - 68.
David Henderson (2010). Explanation and Rationality Naturalized. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 40 (1):30-58.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

7 ( #304,000 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #369,877 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.