A New Type of Convention? Some Remarks on Bruno Celano's 'Pre-Conventions'

9 Pages Posted: 29 Apr 2017

See all articles by Dale Smith

Dale Smith

University of Melbourne - Law School

Date Written: 2016


This piece is part of a symposium on a paper by Bruno Celano entitled “Pre-conventions: A fragment of the Background”. In that paper, Celano argues for the existence and philosophical significance of what he calls “pre-conventions” – a type of convention distinct from those hitherto discussed in the literature, and which transcends a number of orthodox philosophical distinctions. In my comments, I suggest that Celano may have shown that there is a distinct type of convention governing judgments of style or taste. If so, we may learn some important lessons (e.g. concerning the relationship between conventions and rules) by examining this new type of convention. However, I express doubts about whether the broader ambitions of Celano’s paper are fulfilled. I contend that pre-conventions are not as common as he suggests, and are not present in some of the other examples he gives. I also express doubts about whether he is right to suggest that there is a distinct type of convention that renders possible the development of conventions of the sort David Lewis was interested in.

Keywords: Bruno Celano, conventions, pre-conventions, David Lewis

JEL Classification: K00, K49

Suggested Citation

Smith, Dale, A New Type of Convention? Some Remarks on Bruno Celano's 'Pre-Conventions' (2016). Revus, Volume 30 (2016), U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 747, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2959831

Dale Smith (Contact Author)

University of Melbourne - Law School ( email )

University Square
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010

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