Explaining the Normative
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Explaining the Normative

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Normativity is what gives reasons their force, makes wordsmeaningful, and makes rules and laws binding. It is presentwhenever we use such terms as correct,' ought,' must,' and the language of obligation, responsibility, andlogical compulsion. Yet normativists, the philosophers committed tothis idea, admit that the idea of a non-causal normative realm anda body of normative objects is spooky. Explaining the Normative isthe first systematic, historically grounded critique ofnormativism. It identifies the standard normativist pattern ofargument, and shows how this pattern depends on circularities,assumptions about the unique correctness of preferred descriptions,problematic transcendental arguments, and regress arguments thatend in mysteries. The book considers in detail a paradigm case: legal normativityas constructed by Hans Kelsen. This case exemplifies the problemswith normativist arguments. But it also shows how normativism wasconstructed as an alternative to ordinary social scienceexplanation.
The normativist argument is that social scienceexplanations themselves are forced to rely on normativeconceptsNminimally, on normative rationality and on anormative view of concepts' themselves. Empathic understanding of the reasoning and meanings of others,however, can solve the regress problems about meaning andrationality that are central to the appeal of normativism. Thisaccount has no need for a parallel normative world, and has asurprising and revealing lineage in the history of philosophy, aswell as a basis in neuroscience.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 152.4 x 231.14 x 22.86mm | 498.95g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745642551
  • 9780745642550

Table of contents

Introduction vii Chapter 1 What Is the Problem of Normativity? 1 Chapter 2 The Confl ict with Science and Social Science 29 Chapter 3 A Paradigm Case: The Normativity of the Law 66 Chapter 4 Lustral Rites and Systems of Concepts 95 Chapter 5 Communities, Collective Intentions, and Group Reactions 119 Chapter 6 Rationality or Intelligibility 150 Epilogue 186 References 206 Index 216
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Review quote

"This book does to the many overblown claims concerning 'normativity' what Turner previously did against fashionable ideas of 'social practices': throws cold water on extravagant claims made on behalf of norms as a distinctive and unavoidable basis for social inquiry. The real strength of this analysis is the way that Turner shows that the current debates about norms have a long history, the consideration of which is essential to understanding the current discussion for good or ill. The book is certainly the best of its kind and an important contribution." James Bohman, Saint Louis University "This is the most systematic discussion of normativity by a social theorist (or philosopher of the social sciences). The argument is forceful and original throughout. Turner brings together considerations from a variety of different fields - philosophy of law, philosophy of the social sciences, philosophy of mind and language, cognitive science - and these different strands re-enforce and strengthen one another. It is particularly intriguing to see how philosophers defending normativity have in many ways 're-invented the normative wheel' that some social theorists have used for a long time. This book should be obligatory reading for philosophers and social scientists alike." Martin Kusch, University of Vienna "Turner's very clear and measured writing can easily underplay the significance of his message, which needs to be taken very seriously by anyone concerned about the future of philosophy and the social sciences." Times Higher Education Supplement
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About Stephen P. Turner

Stephen Turner is a Graduate Research Professor at the Department of Philosophy, University of South Florida
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