Friday, October 21, 2005

Normativity -- more than just morality

I was hoping to get some comments from readers as to the issues around normativity.

I was struggling recently to communicate how all kinds of social pressures impact on people, coming to form the very basis for what they think is right and wrong.

Good examples would help, descriptions of the process, etc etc.



Anonymous Becky said...

An interesting question is whether all the different kinds of normativity have the same source. That is, are the forces that restrain me from stealing fundamentally the same as the forces that restrain me from eating only chocolate?

Christine Korsgaard is a modern philosopher who thinks that in an important sense, all normativity is the same. To completely over-simplify her argument, Korsgaard thinks that the reason we feel obliged to a certain action is that doing so is consistent with one or more of our identities.

All people identify with a number of different identities. Most are contingent, that is, I choose to identify with the identities of good student, good friend, healthy eater. These identities push me to act in certain ways. The identity of being a moral person, however, is a necessary part of being human, so that is why moral obligations are always obligatory, while other obligations are not.

Whew. I hope that was the sort of thing you were after!

10/26/2005 12:05:00 PM  
Blogger MelbournePhilosopher said...

Yes, it's the question of the kinds of normativity which is interesting me.

Thanks for the pointer, I'll definitely follow it up!

I'm sure if one can boil down to pure identification, but that's just a summary, and enough to pique my curiosity.


10/27/2005 03:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Becky said...

Yeah it's quite an interesting theory. I find it more persuasive for moral normativity than for other kinds though.

I think that in some ways, the source of normativity is aspirational. I don't eat only chocolate because i would LIKE to be a healthy eater, not because I currently think of myself as one.

For moral normativity though, I think that I DO have an identity of a moral person, and I refrain from immoral acts because they're just not the kind of thing I do.

10/28/2005 10:07:00 AM  

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