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Social norms

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-R029-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 23, 2024, from

Article Summary

A social norm may be defined as the rule of a particular social group. That men are to open doors for women, for instance, may be the rule of a particular group. But what is it for a group to have a rule, according to our everyday understanding? Philosophers have disagreed on this point. An important general issue is whether a group’s having a rule is a matter of some or all of its members individually conforming to the rule or individually accepting the rule as a standard of behaviour for the group. An alternative type of account invokes the idea of the group’s members jointly, rather than individually, accepting the rule, in effect agreeing to conform to it. It can be argued that this less individualistic account better explains the way in which people criticize deviations from social norms.

Citing this article:
Gilbert, Margaret. Social norms, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-R029-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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