Norms You Can't Always Get What You Want ... but You Can Get What You Need

David Henderson, Terence Horgan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In Cognitive Science and the Social: A Primer (2018), Stephen Turner provides a headspinning catalog of difficulties confronting those working within a wide range of disciplines. The difficulties arise from the ways in which what is emerging from thinking about what is really going on at the level of underlying cognitive (or cognitive- ish) processes seems not to mesh with much that has been supposed in a standard (dominant and venerable) framework for work in the social sciences (or with much that has gone on in standard cognitive science). The picture Turner provides is, admittedly, murky - as the recent work Turner surveys is diverse and developing, having cross- cutting currents. In this paper, we focus on a narrow range of work in the social sciences - work on social norms. This would seem a fitting focus, as it deploys intentional psychology in ways that Turner argues are crucially problematic: invoking shared rules and expectations within communities. We take to heart some of the trends in cognitive science to which Turner rightly calls attention. We argue that, properly understood, many important themes in work such as Bicchieri's (and Guala's, and Pettit's) can be recast in ways that are not problematic in light of emerging cognitive science. When it comes to understanding social norms, we likely will not get what one might have traditionally wanted, but we will get what we need - social norms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPoznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities
EditorsChristopher Adair-Toteff
PublisherBrill Rodopi
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePoznan Studies in the Philosophy of the Sciences and the Humanities
ISSN (Print)0303-8157
ISSN (Electronic)1875-7243


  • Bicchieri
  • Explanation
  • Norms
  • Representation
  • Rules
  • Turner
  • Verstehen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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