Minding the Gap: Bias, Soft Structures, and the Double Life of Social Norms

Journal of Applied Philosophy (2):190-210 (2018)
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We argue that work on norms provides a way to move beyond debates between proponents of individualist and structuralist approaches to bias, oppression, and injustice. We briefly map out the geography of that debate before presenting Charlotte Witt’s view, showing how her position, and the normative ascriptivism at its heart, seamlessly connects individuals to the social reality they inhabit. We then describe recent empirical work on the psychology of norms and locate the notions of informal institutions and soft structures with respect to it. Finally, we argue that the empirical resources enrich Witt’s ascriptivism, and that the resulting picture shows theorists need not, indeed should not, choose between either the individualist or structuralist camp.

Author Profiles

Lacey J. Davidson
University of Indianapolis
Daniel Kelly
Purdue University


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