The role of the ethnomethodological experiment in the empirical investigation of social norms and its application to conceptual analysis

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 22 (4):461-474 (1992)
It is argued that conceptual analysis as practiced by the philosophers of ordinary language, is an empirical procedure that relies on a version of Garfinkel's ethnomethodological experiment. The ethnomethodological experiment is presented as a procedure in which the existence and nature of a social norm is demonstrated by flouting the putative convention and observing what reaction that produces in the social group within which the convention is assumed to operate. Examples are given of the use of ethnomethodological experiments, both in vivo and as a thought experiment, in order to demonstrate the existence of otherwise invisible conventions governing human social behavior. Comparable examples are cited from the writings of ordinary language philosophers of ethnomethodological thought experiments designed to demonstrate the existence of linguistic conventions.
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DOI 10.1177/004839319202200403
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