Norms and Customs Can’t Cause Anything
One of the most common ways of explaining human behavior is in terms of norms and customs. I argue, here, that there are very good reasons to think that most such explanations are mistaken. Norms and customs, I will argue, are not the sorts of things that can cause anyone to do anything. Calling a behavior a norm may be a true description of it, but the fact that such a behavior is the norm can’t explain why anyone engages in it. If we look carefully at what norms are, and use some common ideas about the role of disjunction in explanation, we’ll see that it’s unlikely that norms can explain what we do.
Keywords: Norm, Custom, Explanation, Causation, Disjunction
Dr. Todd Jones
Philosophy Department Chair, Philosophy, Universtity of Nevada Las Vegas