Toward a General Concept of Norm for Sociology, Psychology, Ethology

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Seminarsaal 20 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Edoardo FITTIPALDI, University of Milan, Italy
Norms have been often reduced to behaviors or linguistic phenomena.

The authors who do take into account emotions usually contend that norms are  connected  to  emotions or that emotions are somewhat  prompted by  norms.

This leaves unanswered the question of what a norm is.

The author proposes to reduce norms to dispositions to experience ethical emotions, namely, guilt, shame, anger, etc.

Norms do not prompt ethical emotions. Norms are rather (to be defined as) dispositions  to experience ethical emotions in case certain circumstances obtain.

For instance, if John experiences guilt for having done x, it is not that John experiences guilt because he violated the norm prohibiting x. The norm prohibiting x should be rather reduced to the existence in John of the  disposition  to experience guilt if he does x.

The  isolated  experience of an ethical  emotion  is not sufficient to speak of a norm.

A disposition is required and thus somewhat a  patternization  of the circumstances whose obtaining prompt ethical emotions.

With the exception of pride (that is an internal reward), patternization requires that the individual carry out a sort of inversion.

For example, the individual must rationalize into the obligation  of  doing x  his experience of guilt or shame in the case he does non-x (or, better, does not do x).

As for anger, the individual must patternize into her sense of being entitled to do x her disposition to react aggressively in case another individual does not show respect for her doing x, or takes some course of action incompatible with her doing x.

In some cultures patternizations further result in hypostatizations.

The reduction here proposed makes it possible to connect the theory of norms to modern psychology and ethology (this is especially the case for anger, indignation, and De Waal’s forerunners of guilt).