Regulative Rules: A Distinctive Normative Kind

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (forthcoming)
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What are rules? In this paper I develop a view of regulative rules which takes them to be a distinctive normative kind occupying a middle ground between orders and normative truths. The paradigmatic cases of regulative rules that I’m interested in are social rules like rules of etiquette and legal rules like traffic rules. On the view I’ll propose, a rule is a general normative content that is in force due to human activity: enactment by an authority or acceptance by a community. Rules are unlike orders in being not necessarily communicative, not an expression’s of the giver’s will, not evaluable for sincerity, and in that they have propositional content. And they’re unlike normative truths in that they’re themselves not even truth-evaluable (though their contents are). This is because rules qua things that are in force are not like constatives which have a mind to world direction of fit, but more like performatives. Furthermore, they differ from normative truths in that their normativity is isolated from their background justification and is therefore not dependent on contributory notions like reasons coming together in a weighing explanation. As such, they occupy a middle ground between orders and normative truths, much like in H. L. A. Hart’s opinion law occupies a middle ground between “coercion” and “morality” (Hart 1961/1994). I also illustrate the virtues of this understanding of rules by showing how proper appreciation of how they differ from normative truths helps us defuse a common objection to Hart’s practice theory of rules.

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Indrek Reiland
University of Vienna

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References found in this work

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Models and metaphors.Max Black - 1962 - Ithaca, N.Y.,: Cornell University Press.
Convention: A Philosophical Study.David Lewis - 1969 - Synthese 26 (1):153-157.
Two concepts of rules.John Rawls - 1955 - Philosophical Review 64 (1):3-32.

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