Social glue and norms of sociality

Philosophical Studies 172 (12):3387-3397 (2015)
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If we are going to understand morality, it is important to understand the nature of societies. What is fundamental to them? What is the glue that holds them together? What is the role of shared norm acceptance in constituting a society? Michael Bratman’s account of modest sociality in his book, Shared Agency, casts significant light on these issues. Bratman’s account focuses on small-scale interactions, but it is instructive of the kinds of factors that can enter into explaining sociality more generally. Norms of “social rationality” play an important role in Bratman’s account. I agree with his idea that these norms have normative force. I contend that these norms actually are morally significant. On the resulting view, social glue consists of actual and intended meshing of intentions and shared knowledge combined with a kind of normative pressure that has normative authority—along with other more familiar factors such as familial connections, cooperative arrangements, and affective states such as loyalties
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