A Fragment of the Genealogy of Norms

Shaun Nichols

in Sentimental Rules

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780195169348
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835041 | DOI:
 A Fragment of the Genealogy of Norms

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One explanation for why the norms we have are closely connected to our emotions is that our norms are intrinsically connected to our emotions. This chapter develops the alternative idea that our emotions played a historical role in shaping which norms prevailed. The central thesis is that emotional responses constitute one important set of mechanisms that affects the cultural viability of norms. Norms that “resonate” with our emotional repertoire will be more likely to survive than other norms. This is corroborated by historical evidence indicating that 16th-century etiquette norms prohibiting disgusting actions were much more likely to survive than other 16th-century etiquette norms.

Keywords: affective resonance; cultural evolution; disgust; epidemiology; etiquette; Norbert Elias

Chapter.  9457 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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