On Turner’s Anti-Normativism

In Raffaela Giovagnoli & Robert Lowe (eds.), The Logic of Social Practices II. Springer Nature Switzerland. pp. 159-176 (2023)
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Abstract

Stephen Turner’s anti-normativism is based on the idea that the normative can be explained away by social science. Exploiting the idea fostered by the sociology of scientific knowledge that reasons can be understood naturalistically as the causes of the beliefs of scientists and endorsing a non-normative conception of rationality, Turner has argued that normative accounts are better understood as “Good Bad Theories” (GBT). GBT are understood as false accounts that play a role in social coordination like magical or religious rituals in primitive societies (e.g. Tabu and the like). According to Turner, “norms,” “obligations,” “reasons,” and “commitments” are like Tabu and can be explained away as GBT. Hence, Turner expected normative accounts to disappear completely in a fully disenchanted world. Turner focuses on the idea, widespread among philosophers, that the normative does not reduce to the causal: his main claim is that social science succeeds in the reduction of the normative in causal terms, overcoming normative/causal dualism. Furthermore, this success is presented as creating a serious challenge for normativism. By focusing on certain (supposedly normative) features of beliefs like those involved in belief change dynamics, I will point out some interesting implications and problems for Turner’s anti-normativism.

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Pietro Salis
Universita di Cagliari

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