Analyse & Kritik

Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory

Logic, Morals, Measurement - Origins and Justifications of Norms

2016 (38) Issue 2
Guest Editors: Susanne Hahn and Oliver Schlaudt


1. The Scope of Normativity“

“Do not use your mobile phone“, “unauthorized entrance prohibited“, “in order for your will to have legal force you must sign it in the presence of at least two witnesses“, “scientific experiments should be reproducible“, “water to cook pasta in should be as salty as the Mediterranean“, “the Federal Court is responsible for deciding civil matters assigned to it by statute“, “if you use a direct quotation from an author you should enclos...

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Table of Contents

Title: The Descriptive-Normative Dichotomy and the So Called Naturalistic Fallacy
Author: Egdar Morscher
Page: 317-337

Investigating the genesis and justification of norms in a theoretical way requires a clear-cut distinction between normative and descriptive discourse. From a philosophical perspective, the descriptive-normative dichotomy can itself be understood either in a descriptive (or ’reportive’) or in an normative (or ’stipulative’) way. In the first case such a dichotomy is understood as the factual border between descriptive and normative discourse in a given language; exploring this border is a hermeneutic enterprise. In the other case it is understood as a boundary between descriptive and normative discourse to be implanted in a language which is developed in order to fit certain purposes, in particular theoretical purposes; this implanting procedure is a matter of regimentation. In this paper I will deal shortly with the first question of hermeneutics and then in more detail with the second question of regimentation. In the final part of the paper I will distinguish different types of naturalistic fallacies resulting from disregarding descriptive-normative dichotomies.

Title: From Worked-out Practice to Justified Norms by Producing a Reflective Equilibrium
Author: Susanne Hahn
Page: 339-369

Reflective equilibrium is a proposal to justify general norms (not only moral norms) by adjusting them to a pre-systematic practice. The paper investigates the method of constructing a reflective equilibrium as a method for ’disappointed connoisseurs’ with regard to alternative ways of justification. The example of no-smoking norms that have emerged within the last twenty years serves several purposes: It is used to illustrate under which conditions requests for justification arise and to investigate which role a worked-out practice can play in the justification of general norms. Additionally, the construction of a reflective equilibrium with respect to a no-smoking norm shows the necessity of implementing systematic considerations in the process of justification. The paper closes with some remarks concerning the characteristic quality of justification one can achieve by the method of reflective equilibrium.

Title: Setzung von Rechtsnormen unter Berücksichtigung der Praxis: Das Beispiel des Strafrechts
Author: Lothar Kuhlen
Page: 371-390

The article examines - with a multitude of examples - the complex method, in which criminal rules evolve in contemporary law. This happens in a continuing process, to which - in addition to the citizens - the legislator, criminal courts and the Federal Constitution Court contribute. The courts are not confined to applying the laws enacted by the legislator, which would be in accordance to a simple model of the separation of powers. The laws rather have to undergo an on-road test by the courts, during which they can prove to be practicable, difficult to handle or not practicable at all and therefore void. The legislator for his part takes note of the judicature and that often brings him to make further decisions. These include the abstaining from establishing new laws, the (plain or modifying) reception of some jurisdictional opinions, the changing of laws against their jurisdictional interpretation and the transformation of other than the jurisdictionally interpreted laws. All in all the criminal law proves to be a good example for the incremental evolution of norms, which occurs in a specific division of labour between the legislator, the criminal courts and the Federal Constitution Court.

Title: „Gentlemen in, Genuine Knowledge out’? Zum Status wissenschaftlicher Normen für die Erkenntnissicherung
Author: Lara Huber
Page: 391-415

Case studies in the history of science and technology have shown that scientific norms, so called standards, contribute significantly to the evolution of scientific practices. They arise predominantly, but not exclusively, on the basis of interactions with instruments of measurement and other technical devices. As regards experimental practices standards are mandatory preparatory procedures in a variety of designs, including the inbreeding and genetic engineering of experimental organisms (e.g. transgenic mice). I claim that scientific norms not only regulate mere technical preconditions of research but also guide experimental practices, for example with regard to the stabilisation and validation of phenomena. Against this background, the paper introduces different kinds of scientific norms and elaborates on the question if they are means to epistemic ends (e.g. stability).

Title: Inferential Acts and Inferential Rules. The Intrinsic Normativity of Logic
Author: Friedrich Reinmuth and Geo Siegwart
Page: 417-431

We outline a pragmatic-normative understanding of logic as a discipline that is completely anchored in the sphere of action, rules, means and ends: We characterize inferring as a speech act which is in need of regulation and we connect inferential rules with consequence relations. Furthermore, we present a scenario which illustrates how one actually assesses or can in principle assess the quality of logical rules with respect to justificatory questions. Finally, we speculate on the origin of logical rules as a means of supporting our practice of inferring.

Title: Norms as Equilibria
Author: Bernd Lahno
Page: 433-458

This paper presents a survey on contemporary RC accounts of norms. The characteristic common feature of these accounts is that norms are understood as equilibrium selection devices. The most sophisticated positions driven by this idea are Herbert Gintis' theory of norms as choreographers and Cristina Bicchieri's theory of norms as solutions to mixed motive games. In order to give a comprehensive account of social norms, though, RC theory needs to be substantially extended. In particular, it seems to be impossible in principle to fully understand the concept of normativity and the motivating power of norms within a traditional, pure RC framework.

Title: Die Normativität des Krankheitsbegriffs: Zur Genese und Geltung von Kriterien der Krankhaftigkeit
Author: Peter Hucklenbroich
Page: 459-496

The question whether the concept of disease is descriptive or normative, is controversial in philosophical debates. A philosophical investigation of medical pathology concerning this question has hitherto been lacking. This paper is based on the reconstruction of general medical pathology as outlined in earlier work of this author. Key concepts of medical pathology are: disease entity, pathologicity, disease criterion, disease value, medical indication. The criteria of pathologicity and the general pathology are briefly sketched. It is shown that these conceptions constitute a dimension of objective value that is rooted in the psychosomatic human nature but is compatible with additional, superposed subjective or sociocultural values concerning disease. The concept and procedure of medical indication constitute the bridge between objective disease values and subjective values or norms. In deciding whether treatment is needed and demanded, the values of the ill subject are decisive. Thus, the controversy between naturalists and normativist may be transformed into a coalition.

Title: Reflective Equilibria in Metrology?
Author: Oliver Schlaudt
Page: 497-521

In this paper I propose to read the history of systems of units, and in particular the current reform of the International System of Units (SI), understood as a set of measuring norms, in the light of reflective equilibria. The idea is that the model of reflective equilibria actually applies to processes which can be empirically observed or studied. This can help us to understand the nature of normativity and to shed light on its relativity to, and dependence on, practice.

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