Talk:Norm (philosophy)

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Deleted "Do Norms Exist?" and "Norms without Expression"[edit]

It looks like this page hasn't been touched in a while, so when I came across several sections that seemed to be comprised entirely of speculative Original Research and unsourced information, I figured I'd just be bold and delete it. Fiat! Jtmorgan (talk) 00:50, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

Cleanup tasks:[edit]

  • Use of "we" and "I"
  • Use headings rather than lines between sections
  • General grammar and style cleanup
  • Use of «»
  • Maybe just redirect to normative

-Seth Mahoney 17:06, Jan 18, 2005 (UTC)

I think I fixed most of the problems.

--Velho 21:08, 18 Jan 2005 (UTC)

That was fast! Thanks. There are still a few problem sentences, though. I'll point them out below:
Thanks for your criticism!
I think much of the problem is that you do not agree with what I wrote. Perhaps you could add your POVs. Sometimes it is hard not to give POVs.
--Velho 01:41, 20 Jan 2005 (UTC)

These norm sentences do not describe how the world is, they rather prescribe how the world is to be. I'm not sure "norm sentences" is a commonly used term.

Could you think of another way to put it?
Well, I don't think its a standard term, so I'm not exactly sure what it is supposed to refer to, so I guess my answer is no, not without more information.

Norms are the meanings of these sentences, rather than the sentences themselves. This sentence doesn't really make much sense - norms can't be meanings, and neither can sentences.

Please check proposition. It is commonly accepted that, if there are "meanings" at all, norms should be meanings (I left a link to "meaning"). For instance: in Switzerland statutes are written in three languages (Fr., It. and Ger.), but for each "norm" you would not say that there are three norms, would you? That's because there's only one "meaning", whatever that is.
Oh, gotcha - in that case, maybe something more like "Norms are the meanings of these sentences." without the last part.

These norms purporting to create obligations (or duties) and permissions are called deontic norms (see also deontic logic). Norms neither purport nor create.

I accept your criticism here, but I can't find a better word. And it is common language that "laws" (norms) "create" duties and permissions.
Then perhaps just "These norms create obligations..."

The concept of deontic norm is already an extension of the most obvious and ancient concept of norm, which would only include imperatives, that is, norms purporting to create duties. 'Deontic norm' is not well defined above, which makes its use here problematic and somewhat jargony. Also, "most obvious" and "[most] ancient" could be read as POV. Lastly, again, norms do not purport.

I think I gave an acceptable definition and rather "encyclopedical". Please feel free to make it better!
Sorry, I missed that.

The understanding that permissions are norms in the same way was an important step in ethics and philosophy of law. In the same way as what? Also, important according to who?

In the same way as imperatives (obligations). You can check the importance of it reading any of the books I cited, especially von Wright's, Raz's and Alexy's.
I'm not doubting that this understanding was considered important, but suggesting that you should always say who it is important to and why, when possible. Maybe its just me, but it is not entirely clear that you mean in the same way as imperatives.

But other extensions are needed. Needed for what? According to who?

Needed for an acceptable understanding and definition of norm.

Linguistic conventions are among the most important norms. "Most important" sounds a bit POV.

I don't think so. Since language is important (this is not a POV! Do you think it is?), language is conventional and these conventions are norms, I guess what I wrote makes sense.
I dunno, it could be argued that linguistic conventions could not exist without social norms, which could not exist without certain other, more general behavioral norms, and so on. I tend to sympathize with language being given primary importance, but there are definately people who don't.

Since norms do not purport to describe anything, but to prescribe, create or change something, they cannot be true or false, although they can be successful or unsuccessful (valid or invalid). Norms cannot purport. Also, I'm not sure about the use of "valid or invalid" here.

See above about "purport". "Validity" (of norms) has been always related to truth (of propositions). I personally think there is no relevant relation, but it seemed honest to write ir this way.
Regarding 'purport', the sentence would be perfectly fine without it - "Since norms do not describe anything..."

There is an important difference between norms and normative propositions, although they are often expressed by identical sentences. "You may go out." usually expresses a norm when it is uttered by the teacher to one of the students, but it usually expresses a normative proposition if it is uttered to one of the students by one of his or her classmates. This needs to be explained more fully. Why does this difference exist? Also, is it really that likely that a fellow classmate will give permission to another student to "go out"?

I agree! It needs to be more fully explained. And you got the point! It is most unlikely that fellow classmates do give permission to go out. What they do is just report a normative situation (the permission) to their fellow classmates. Teachers give permissions. That is the difference!
Oh! Gotcha!

Some ethical theories reject that there can be normative propositions, but these are accepted at least by cognitivism. Which ethical theories? Also, if you're going to talk about cognitivism, you need to link to an article on it and include some brief description of it.

Hey! The link has always been there!
Oops!

One can also think of propositional norms; assertions and questions arguably express propositional norms (they set a proposition as asserted or questioned). I'd argue against the use of parenthesis as much as possible. This might be better split into two or three sentences, with the last ones explaining what theories argue this and how it happens.

You might be right. I'm not sure. Please do it! This is Wikipedia!


The other major feature of norms is that they never regard only natural properties or entities. I'd actually sort of disagree with this sentence. There exist a whole class of norms that invoke the word (and concept) 'natural' (usually based on statistical claims). The question then is whether or not those sorts of claims are actually invoking natural properties. Of course, the whole natural/artificial dichotomy is problematic, but that doesn't really need discussing here.

Sorry, I think you must start at Norm (disambiguation).

This might be the reason why Hume asserted that it is not possible to derive ought from is and why G.E. Moore thought that there is a naturalistic fallacy when one tries to analyse "good" and "bad" in terms of a natural concept.

Speculation as to Hume's and Moore's intentions doesn't really belong here.

You are right here! I didn't mean to guess Hume's and Moore's intentions. I'll rephrase it.

In aesthetics, it has also been argued that it is impossible to derive an aesthetical predicate from a non-aesthetical one. By who? In what context?

I think it is not important to put a quotation here. But if you think it is, just put this there: "For instance (Sibley 1959, Patrício 2001)" References:

Sibley, Frank: "Aesthetic concepts" in Joseph Margolis (editor) Philosophy looks at the arts. Contemporary readings in Aesthetics, 3rd edition, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1987. Patrício, Rita: Conhecimento de poesia: a crítica literária segundo Vitorino Nemésio, Universidade do Minho, Braga, 2001.

I agree - quotes aren't necessary, but whenever possible, references are.

Recent works maintain that normativity has an important role in several different philosophical subjects, not only in ethics and philosophy of law (see, for instance, Dancy, 2000, cited below). Normativity, or norms (I'm still not convinced there is much of a difference)? Also, you might check Wikipedia conventions for citing sources - I think just "(Dancy 2000)" works. Also, recent works by who?

By who?! By Dancy and other authors in the same book!
Oh, right. That'll teach me to type when I'm tired.

The question whether norms actually exist will probably have the same answer as the question whether propositions exist. Speculations about the future don't really belong in an encyclopedia article.

Come on. This is not a speculation about the future, it is just another way to say "might arguably have". I'll change it anyway.

It is discussed whether there can be norms (or valid norms) which are not (yet) expressed in anyway. Where is this discussed? By who? Also, "anyway" should probably be "any way".

For instance, Alchourrón and Bulygin. See the references.
But, see, the reader doesn't know that unless you put a little (Alchourrón xxxx, Bulygin xxxx) after the sentence.

Suppose someone decides to go to bed always before 5 a.m., but she does not say it. She just decides in her thoughts. It seems that she has just set a norm for herself. This might fall under Wittgenstein's private language argument as something that actually cannot happen. Also, "She decides in her thoughts." is an awkward sentence - you can't really do something in your thoughts - they don't make up a space in which one can take action. "In her head" or "in her mind" or "She decides, but doesn't tell anyone." would probably work better. Also, whether a norm can exist for just one person is questionable.

Yes! It is questionable! I started by saying "it is discussed".

Or suppose that a French court rules that it is unlawful to build a high wall in one's property with the sole purpose of casting a shadow on my neighbor's property, since that causes a damage and it is unlawful, in principle, to cause damages to other people. This court seems to be enforcing a general principle, a norm, the norm that it is unlawful, in principle, to cause damages. The problem is that this norm is not written anywhere in French laws and it cannot easily be grounded on a practice or custom. Should it be accepted as a valid norm? As written, this reads (to me) like: 1. A French court rules that it is unlawful to do X on the grounds that X causes damages to someone else and causing damages to someone else is unlawful. 2. This norm (that it is unlawful to do X or that it is unlawful to cause damages?) doesn't exist anywhere in French laws.

This is an impossible situation. If a French court has ruled that it is unlawful to do X on the grounds that Y, prohibitions against X or Y must be a part of French law.

This is an actual situation. It is the Arrêt Boudier from the 19th century. And it is common. You aren't a lawyer, are you?
Nope, definately not a lawyer - I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but it does seem ridiculous to make a judgment with no appropriate law to back it up. I wonder if there's an appropriate Wikipedia article that could be linked here.

I'd make changes myself, but I'm always hesitant to rush into a work that was written by primarily one person - I'd prefer to keep your intended meanings intact.

Thank for that, but please do change sentences, do correct my bad grammar and do add any other POVs you think relevante!
Okay. One more thing, many of your references use the term 'normative' or 'normativity' rather than 'norm', at least in the titles - based on what I've read in this article, I'm still not sure there's a difference between the two, and if not, the contents here should probably be merged with normative (which, as an article, is fairly lacking) and then this article should become a redirect.

-Seth Mahoney 00:22, Jan 20, 2005 (UTC) --Velho 01:41, 20 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Purporting to create[edit]

Seth: Norms neither purport nor create.

Velho: I accept your criticism here, but I can't find a better word. And it is common language that "laws" (norms) "create" duties and permissions.
Seth: Then perhaps just "These norms create obligations..."
Velho: I am using the «semantical concept» of norm, which states that there is a norm as long as a sentence "means a norm", even if that norm is invalid and therefore does not actually "create" any duty or obligation. That is why I used the "purport". I guess this is the most neutral way to put it, since other concepts of norm also accept the metaphor of "purporting to create", but not the other way around.

Seth: I dunno, it could be argued that linguistic conventions could not exist without social norms, which could not exist without certain other, more general behavioral norms, and so on. I tend to sympathize with language being given primary importance, but there are definately people who don't.

Velho: I surely agree with that. But it does not question that those conventions are norms and that those norms are important.

Seth: Nope, definately not a lawyer - I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but it does seem ridiculous to make a judgment with no appropriate law to back it up. I wonder if there's an appropriate Wikipedia article that could be linked here.

Velho: Fortunately or unfortunately, judges are always doing it. Actually, that is half of their job. There are thousands of books and articles on the subject. As far as I can recall, nobody seriously argues against it after 1900. I guess you will get some information on it if you follow the links about law.

Seth: Okay. One more thing, many of your references use the term 'normative' or 'normativity' rather than 'norm', at least in the titles - based on what I've read in this article, I'm still not sure there's a difference between the two, and if not, the contents here should probably be merged with normative (which, as an article, is fairly lacking) and then this article should become a redirect.

Velho: The "normative" article is made with a more sociological perspective. On the other hand, it focuses on normative discourse. I guess it is better that the two articles co-exist. If they are to be merged, I think it would be reasonable to keep the noun (norm) and delete the adjective (normative). That's common practice in encyclopedias. I think we should wait until other opinions come up.


--Velho 16:27, 20 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Hey, my apologies for taking so long to reply. Your edits so far have been excellent, and much appreciated. If you can continue to add references (mainly in the article - the Further reading section is certainly adequate, though maybe, especially if it contains a lot of your sources for this article, it should be renamed to References), that would be fantastic. As far as merging goes, I'm not sure that this one should be kept - 'normative' is increasingly being used as both a noun and an adjective, and it seems to be the way people are going. In a lot of academic texts, you can even find it pluralized (!). Anyhow, I'm going to give the current version a copyedit and then I'm outta here for the day. Thanks again, and keep up the top notch work. -Seth Mahoney 20:16, Jan 22, 2005 (UTC)

Note: I did remove the section in the linguistics paragraph about abbreviations and stipulative definitions because it wasn't clear what you were trying to say with it, and, I think, the paragraph is much clearer currently. If you want to add it back, I'm not going to argue, but if you do, try to make the point a little clearer. Also, though I left it in, the bit about the schoolchildren saying "you may go out" is still bothering me - 'may' is almost always used in English to give permission, and I really can't imagine one kid saying to another, "you may go out". They would probably use 'can', for two reasons: because, after a certain generation, 'may' is rarely used, and because they aren't giving permission. Can you think of a different example that illustrates the same point, maybe? The only other major change I made was to qualify the paragraph about norms being otherworldly - there are certainly those who believe that norms are (or should be) based on completely natural moral properties (natural law theorists, divine command theorists, etc.), and since they exist the paragraph as it was was POV. There may be a more graceful way to tone it down than the one I chose, and if you think of one, by all means change the sentence. -Seth Mahoney 20:37, Jan 22, 2005 (UTC)

Thanks for your corrections. I really do not agree with two of your changes. We'll talk about it later. But not today, I'm not in the mood. See you!--Velho 03:46, 23 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Norm, Normal, Normalcy[edit]

I don't know if I've put this in the right place, but I don't see a button for starting a new comment.

Norm, Normal, Normalcy and some related words should include a couple of concepts. One is the statistical definition of normal, meaning "typical" or "modal," or in the greatest number (a plurality or majority.)

It should also include a sociological concept relating to the most common practices or beliefs. Thus, heterosexuality is often called "normal" because it is the condition or practice or belief of the greatest number. Once a majority believe that homosexuality is not deviant or evil, then it would become "normal" in that sense. It is also normal that people should die or age, because those are universal conditions.

Normal can also refer to perfection, as in a "normal kidney," meaning a kidney without defect.

Common speech may refer to norms as socially agreed standards, such that it is the norm to accept a certain practice. There is a command element involved, but a greater suggestion of agreement by the greatest number.

You have to check norm (disambiguation), normative, norm (sociology), norm (mathematics), normal, etc. Velho 16:07, 20 October 2006 (UTC)