Social normativity: What's at stake?


Abstract
This paper argues that what is at stake in the debate over the nature of social normativity is the understanding of the significance of the tension between repetition and change. The first and second parts of the paper offer illustrations of the pervasiveness and tenacity of reinforcement, as well as the rarity, but also urgent need for, openness. The paper also argues that the most dominant reason as to why the above-mentioned tension has received little attention in the literature is because of the focus on the analysis of the nature and status of orders, which are assumed or are posited to regulate or govern social life. The paper argues that when we resist reification of normative orders and see these orders, instead, as projections that enable human beings to achieve certain aims, we open the door to understanding the above-mentioned tension and its significance. Further, when we see normative orders as projections, we can also understand that normative requirements are all capable of being distinguished only in degree, and not in kind. In other words, what we ordinarily think of as the normal and the normative form a continuum ranging from, on the one hand, that which we would be surprised or enraged to see as being doubted or undermined, to, on the other hand, that which is the subject of much debate and disagreement
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