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The Normative Animal?On the Anthropological Significance of Social, Moral, and Linguistic Norms$
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Neil Roughley and Kurt Bayertz

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190846466

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190846466.001.0001

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Might We Be Essentially Normative Animals?

Might We Be Essentially Normative Animals?

Chapter:
(p.3) 1 Might We Be Essentially Normative Animals?
Source:
The Normative Animal?
Author(s):

Neil Roughley

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190846466.003.0001

This chapter poses the question of whether humans might be essentially normative animals, i.e. whether traditionally prominent specificities of the human life form—our linguistic, social, and moral “natures”—might ground in a basic susceptibility, or proclivity to the deontic regulation of thought and behaviour: the “normative animal thesis.” The chapter lays out the issues at stake in attempting to answer this question. It divides into two main parts. The first begins by clarifying the—norm-related—concept of normativity at issue, distinguishing it from the—reason-related—conceptualisation current in meta-ethics and theories of rationality. It then discusses the primary candidates for generic features of norms, before dividing the normative animal thesis into various sub-claims. The second part presents the key questions at issue in the discussion of social, moral, and linguistic norms, comparing ways of conceiving them and marking the significance of such conceptualisations for the normative animal thesis.

Keywords:   normative animal thesis, social norm, linguistic rule, moral principle, standard of correctness, convention, collective intentionality, rule following, particularism, semantic norm

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