Marmor's Social Conventions: The Limits of Practical Reason

Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Published via Onlline First

Posted: 23 Jan 2010 Last revised: 29 Mar 2018

Date Written: January 22, 2010

Abstract

This essay argues that the practical reason approach to the study of social conventions (and social normativity more generally) fails to adequately account for the fluency of social action in environments that we experience as familiar. The practical reason approach, articulated most recently in Andrei Marmor’s Social Conventions: From Language to Law (2009) does help us, though not wholly adequately, to understand how we tend to react to, and experience, unfamiliar situations or unfamiliar behaviours, i.e., those situations in which a certain practice becomes problematic or is problematised, or where we are obliged to, or moved to, justify or deliberate. The reason why the practical reason approach is not wholly adequate when it comes to understanding unfamiliar situations or unfamiliar behaviours is that it tends to subsume the unfamiliar under the familiar, i.e., it tends to negatively evaluate anything that is deemed to be not in accordance with the rules and reasons already familiar to the observer. This excludes the possibility of the observer having to transform himself or herself, and thus change what is familiar to him or her.

Keywords: conventions, norms, normativity, reasons, rules, rule-following, values

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Del Mar, Maksymilian T., Marmor's Social Conventions: The Limits of Practical Reason (January 22, 2010). Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Published via Onlline First . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1540504

Maksymilian T. Del Mar (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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