SOPhiA 2018

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Normativity in Lewis' and Bicchieri's Accounts of Conventions and Norms
(Political Philosophy & Philosophy of Law, English)

In her influential book The Grammar of Society (2006), Cristina Bicchieri argues that social norms give rise to normative expectations, which distinguishes them from the so-called descriptive norms and conventions, which generate only empirical expectations. Bicchieri's account of conventions differs from the one proposed by David Lewis (1969), who claimed conventions are a species of norms, drawing their normativity from the normativity of instrumental rationality and normativity of "external" moral principles or norms. According to Bicchieri, there is also a third kind of normativity that applies to social norms, which is neither rational nor moral.

The aim of this paper is to compare Bicchieri's and Lewis' conceptions of conventions and social norms and the expectations they generate, together with the concepts of normativity they employ. One of the reasons to investigate this is the wish for conceptual clarity -- to see how similar Lewis' and Bicchieri's terms are, and in which exact aspects they differ. However, what makes the topic especially interesting is that it may shed some light on the origin of normative expectations and how we should understand the normativity in question. I argue with Lewis that conventions are a type of norms that draw their normativity from instrumental rationality and other independent other-regarding or moral principles or norms, such as not to harm other people, and that it is not clear what further normativity, i.e. that which is not rational nor moral, there could be. Furthermore, if no other kind of normativity is needed to account for the normativity of norms, it might be good to do away with that elusive concept.

Chair: Jan Buran
Time: 14:40-15:10, 14 September 2018 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.007

Martina Valkovic 
(Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands)

I am a Research Masters student of Philosophy at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands. My primary interest is in the area of analytic social philosophy, with a special emphasis on social conventions, norms, coordination, evolution of cooperation. My other interests are history of philosophy, in particular the social contract theories, and philosophy of science, especially problems related to confirmation.

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