A new problem for rules

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 107 (3):671-691 (2023)
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This paper presents a series of arguments aimed at showing that, for an important subclass of social rules—non‐summary rules—no adequate metaphysical account has been given, and it tentatively suggests that no such account can be given. The category of non‐summary rules is an important one, as it includes the rules of etiquette, fashion, chess, basketball, California state law, descriptive English grammar, and so on. This paper begins with behavioristic accounts of the conditions for the existence of such rules, and proceeds through progressively more complex accounts, all the way to what are labeled ‘normative attitude accounts,’ which are prima facie plausible and particularly popular. In each case it is argued that the type of account under consideration cannot explain the existence of the relevant type of social rule.

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Jeffrey Kaplan
University of North Carolina, Greensboro


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