Rules, society and evolution

Abstract
Within human communities, the phenomenon of rules is ubiquitous. We have the allimportant rules that are codified by our law; we have rules that are not authoritatively written down, but are usually followed (like the rule that if somebody helps me, I should be prepared to help him in turn); we have traffic rules; and the rules of various games and sports. Yet, from the scientific viewpoint, rules are not easy to account for. How is their emergence to be explained (in a way compatible with evolution), and how is their existence to be construed, especially in cases when they are not written down? Are we to consider a rule as primarily a linguistic object; or are we to reduce it to some regularity of behavior? Neither of these two forms of existence holds much allure. Firstly, insofar as some rules clearly exist without being recorded, there is no linguistic object with which they can be identified. (After all, we talk about the encoding of the law, which seems to suggest that the law articulates something existing independently of the code.) And secondly, reducing the existence of a rule to a plain regularity of behavior would extinguish any distinction between billiard balls 'following the rules' of mechanics and human subjects following the rules of their society. Hence it would seem that, though there must be more to rules than regularities, at least some rules must be capable of existing exclusively 'within' human conduct – being, as Willfrid Sellars (1949, 299) put it, written "in flesh and blood, or nerve and sinew, rather than in pen and ink".
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,798
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total downloads
30 ( #177,161 of 2,202,702 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #301,061 of 2,202,702 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature