On the Concept of Basic Social Norms

Analyse & Kritik 30 (2):469-482 (2008)
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Abstract

In sociology, social philosophy, social ontology, and classical choice theory the notion of a social norm is usually introduced by using a rich normative, semantic, and social vocabulary, while the notions that evolutionary game theory proceeds from seem too poor to elucidate the idea of social norms. In this paper, I suggest to define a notion of social norms that is as basic as possible, in the sense that it relies only on notions like affects, feelings as well as regularities, standards, and corrections of behaviour. These notions suffice to explain non-linguistic traditions, practices, sanctions, and, finally, basic social norms. Two of the aims of the paper are, first, to clarify the idea of genuine normativity and second, to explore whether the sort of normativity involved in basic social norms is part of a bridge between nature and the social realm.

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