Version: v1, Published online: 1998
Retrieved February 20, 2019, from https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/nature-and-convention/v-1
The nature–convention distinction opposes instinctual or ‘spontaneous’ modes of comportment (those which follow from ‘human nature’) to those which are socially instituted or culturally prescribed. Its philosophic interest resides in its use to justify or contest specific forms of human behaviour and social organization. Since the ‘conventional’ is opposed to the ‘natural’ as that which is in principle transformable, the adherents of a particular order in human affairs have standardly sought to prove its ‘naturality’, while its critics have sought to expose its merely ‘conventional’ status. Relatedly, ‘conventions’ may be associated with what is distinctive to ‘human’, as opposed to ‘bestial’ nature, or denounced for their role in repressing our more ‘natural’ impulses.
Soper, Kate. Nature and convention, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-R012-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis, https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/nature-and-convention/v-1.
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