Categories and Normativity

In Sanford Gorman (ed.), Categories. The Catholic University of America Press (2004)
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Anyone who tries to understand categories soon runs into the problem of giving an account of the unity of a category. Call this the “unity problem.” In this essay, I describe a distinctive and under-studied version of the unity problem and discuss how it might be solved. First, I describe various versions of the unity problem. Second, I focus on one version and argue that it is best dealt with by thinking of at least some categories as “norm-constituted,” in a sense that I try to make clear. Third, I discuss some objections to my proposal. Fourth, I compare norm -constituted categories to categories that are normative in a different sense. Fifth, I briefly discuss the possibility of grounding the normativity of norm-constituted categories. Finally, I raise a few questions for further research.

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Michael Gorman
Catholic University of America


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