Norms and Customs: Causally Important or Causally Impotent?

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 40 (3):399-432 (2010)
Abstract
In this article, I argue that norms and customs, despite frequently being described as being causes of behavior in the social sciences and ordinary conversation, cannot really cause behavior. Terms like "norms" and the like seem to refer to philosophically disreputable disjunctive properties. More problematically, even if they do not, or even if there can be disjunctive properties after all, I argue that norms and customs still cannot cause behavior. The social sciences would be better off without referring to properties like norms and customs as if they could be causal.
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DOI 10.1177/0048393109345138
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