In “Rethinking Norm Psychology,” Cecilia Heyes offers an insightful critique of nativist approaches to the psychology of norms and then proposes a plausible alternative model grounded in the theory of cognitive gadgets. We are broadly sympathetic to both the critique and to the cognitive-gadgets model, though our own pluralistic approach to the psychology of norms (Westra & Andrews, 2022) leads us to think that the range of psychological and ecological processes that contributes to our norm psychology is even more diverse than what Heyes proposes.
Here, though, we focus on Heyes’s conceptual critique of the nativist model and its explanatory target—namely, a system for representing and processing rules. Heyes’s criticism of this representational rule-based conception of the psychology of norms is quite sound. However, we will argue that Heyes’s alternative behavioral explanandum for the psychology of norms also fails to escape the gravitational pull of a rule-based approach.