David Henderson

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Social Science

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780195392753
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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This article describes some of the ways in which brute behavioral norms can feature as explananda. Explanation in terms of norms-as-rules is not far removed from explanation that turns on individual psychology. There are three very general ways in which one might initially think to understand talk of rules—three kinds of things that one might think could serve the functional role envisioned—but only one is really promising on informed reflection. The issues of tolerance of difference, sharing across difference, and yet sufficient similarity to constrain of behavior are closely linked to issues that concerned Ludwig Wittgenstein. Bicchieri's talk of rules being known to exist is probably an infelicitously glorified formulation. An account of causal explanations in the special sciences advanced by James Woodward is described. Accounting for the social preferences is most daunting in the case of social norms.

Keywords: behavioral norms; explananda; Bicchieri; rules; causal explanations; James Woodward; social norms

Article.  13496 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science ; Social and Political Philosophy

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