Understanding social norms and constitutive rules: Perspectives from developmental psychology and philosophy

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Abstract

A recent experimental paradigm that tests young children’s understanding of social norms by modelling norms on Searle’s notion of constitutive rule is examined. The experiments and the reasons provided for their design are discussed in detail. The concepts of a social norm and of a constitutive rule are compared, and it is shown that they are distinct. It is argued that the experiments do not provide direct evidence for the development of social norms. The experimental data are re-interpreted, and suggestions for how to deal with the present criticism are presented. It is suggested that normativity emerges from interaction, and that learning to comply with social norms involves an understanding of the distinctions among their content, enforcement, and acceptance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699-718
Number of pages20
JournalPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Volume14
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)
  • Philosophy

Keywords

  • compliance
  • constitutive rule
  • game
  • rule following
  • play
  • social norm

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