Laura Valentini (King’s College London)

Normative Powers and Social Practices

18 January 2020 | 12:00 EST | 17:00 BST

Normative powers have been the subject of complex debates in philosophy. There are rich literatures on, e.g., consent, authority, promising, and forgiveness, to name a few. Yet, there is relatively little discussion of normative powers as such, as a general category. My aim in this paper is to fill this gap. Specifically, the paper’s intended contribution is twofold: conceptual (concerning the definition of such powers) and ontological (concerning the existence conditions of such powers). On the conceptual side, I offer a general definition of normative powers—be they legal, conventional, or moral—one that I believe better captures the relevant phenomenon than alternative definitions found in the literature. On the ontological side, I argue that normative powers, including moral powers, cannot exist in the absence of social practices. Social practices conferring them on individuals are necessary existence conditions of those powers.

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