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Rational reconstructions and the question of function

Journal article
Authors Lina Eriksson
Published in Rationality and Society
Volume 31
Issue 4
Pages 409-431
ISSN 1043-4631
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Political Science
Pages 409-431
Language en
Keywords Norm emergence, rational reconstruction, social norms, social norms, law, punishment, Sociology
Subject categories Sociology


Social norm emergence is commonly explained by stating that norms serve certain functions - for example, solving cooperation or coordination problems. But critics argue that examples of norms that do not seem to serve functions show that functions cannot explain social norms. However, both sides tend to make assumptions about how explanations of social norms in terms of functions would work. By discussing four problems for these assumptions, I will show that they are over-simplified. Instead of asking whether norms serve functions, we need to ask more specific questions about the relationship between the norm and the function it supposedly serves.

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Utskriftsdatum: 2020-05-25