The normative sense: what is universal? What varies?

Elizabeth O'Neill, Edouard Machery

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


The extent to which normative cognition varies across cultures has implications for a number of important philosophical questions. This chapter examines several striking commonalities and differences in normative cognition across cultures. We focus on cross-cultural commonality and difference in norm typologies (especially the moral-conventional distinction); the externalization of norms; which aspects of life are normativized; and some of the concepts and principles associated with the normative domain. We argue that the distinction between moral and conventional norms is probably not universal and that several concepts and principles that have been suggested as candidate universals may in fact be culturally local. We nevertheless isolate two possible universals: the phenomenon of externalizing norms and the normativization of a preferred class of subject matters.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Handbook of Moral Epistemology
EditorsAaron Zimmerman, Karen Jones, Mark Timmons
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781315719696
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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