The evolution of normative systems

Abstract

Philosophers spend a lot of time worrying about rules. We worry about how one ought to live, about the rules of justification for beliefs and actions, about what it would be like if the rules of reason were rigorously followed, about what the rules are for scientific enquiry, about which rules govern the meaning of signs and the intentions of agents, and so on. Sometimes, we argue that there are no such rules as most of us want to believe there are, rules which apply to all of us collectively and to each of us individually, which are beyond our ability to change, and whose violation is in some simple sense wrong. To this we often respond that without such rules we are all made somehow less, that our normative deliberations are a sham, or even that the whole business of living becomes somehow pointless.

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William F. Harms
Seattle Central Community College

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