Norms as “Intentional Systems”

Phenomenology and Mind 24:206-215 (2023)
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Abstract

The present paper investigates the nature of norms in correlation to the philosophical notions of intentionality and disposition. Following Amselek (2017; 2020), norms are here understood as tools giving the measure of what is possible to do. Intentionality, understood as “being-about”, in relation to norms allows us both to form a description of reality in the norm, and to correct our actions in order to correspond to the norm. Through the notion of disposition, i.e., on the one hand, the linguistic manifestation of the norm and, on the other hand, the physical presence of individual mental states or social states-of-affairs, the paper investigates the “force of norms” and the “mystery of effectiveness”. Elaborating on the notion of “nomotropism”, which highlights the different ways in which a norm may work or operate, and drawing inspiration from Dennett’s philosophy of mind, the paper suggests that legal norms, which allow for the expectation that social behaviors will be measured by specific standards or yardsticks, clearly offer an evolutionary advantage in the regulation of human relationships.

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Pascal Richard
Université de Toulon

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