Of Norms

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This contribution aims to clarify the notion of a norm by elaborating the idea that norms are rules that lead to deontic consequences. The elaboration focuses both on the nature of rules and on the nature of deontic facts.
Rules, it will be argued, are a kind of constraints on possible worlds. They determine which facts necessarily go together or cannot go together. Three kinds of rules are distinguished: dynamic rules which attach consequences to the occurrence of events, fact-to-fact rules which attach one fact to the presence of some other fact, and counts-as rules, which make that some things (often events) also counts as something else.
The very existence of a rule makes that some fact obtains: the factual ounterpart of the rule. The descriptive sentence that expresses this fact – the descriptive counterpart of the rule - is an open generalization and this generalization often has the same formulation as the rule from which it derives its truth. Many things that have been defended in connection with the logic of norms are better defendable when interpreted as dealing with these descriptive counterparts.
By distinguishing between objective facts, brute social facts, and rule-based facts and thereby introducing facts that are mind-dependent, an attempt is made to overcome resistance against the idea that facts might be normative, that there might be deontic facts. Deontic facts are facts that tend to induce a motivation to comply with them in agents to which they apply. They are most often the result of the application of fact-to-fact rules (duties) or dynamic rules (obligations). However, they can also be the result of mere acceptance, or perhaps even exist because that is rational. A distinction is made between two kinds of basic deontic facts - the existence of duties and of obligations – and two kinds of supervening deontic facts: being obligated and owing to do something.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of legal reasoning and argumentation
EditorsG. Bongiovanni , G. Postema, A. Rotolo, G. Sartor, C. Valentini, D. Walton
Place of PublicationDordrecht
Number of pages36
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-481-9452-0
ISBN (Print)978-90-481-9451-3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

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