Final Report Summary - VALUES (NORMATIVE PRACTICES IN THE PUBLIC SPHERE. A THEORETICAL MODELING OF FORMS OF CIVIC ENGAGEMENT)
The Value research project aimed at developing a society-centered and practice-based theory of normativity. It offers a new approach to the study of normativity based upon the priority of normative practices over normative contents. The aim of the project was threefold. Firstly, to provide a theoretical account of the epistemic conditions that qualifies the functioning of normative practices. Secondly, to provide a framework for the analysis and description of the main forms of normative practices. Thirdly, to develop conceptual tools to be used in the analysis of specific cases of moral and socio-political controversies. These aims will be pursued through an interdisciplinary approach that draws jointly from philosophy and the social science.
The project has taken as its starting point some of the main works accomplished in this direction in the last decades, and integrated them with a sociological study of agents’ normative behavior.
The work plan was divided into three main phases, summarized below.
Phase 1. Definition of the theoretical framework
The first step will have to justify the theoretical grounds on which the theory of normative practices has to be built. The aim of this phase is to lay out the essential categories needed to explain the rational character of normative practices and to show that this model can provide answers to some of the central questions of normative theory. The general hypothesis that the project will put to test is that the pragmatist conception of rationality as inquiry provides the adequate theoretical background for explaining how validity of normative claims is generated within normative practices.
The planned outcome of this phase were: a) an article highlighting the pragmatist origins of the idea of rationality as social institution; b) an article defining the concept of rationality as social institution and its main conceptual components; c) an article on the concept of pragmatic objectivity and d) the plan of a book on the theory of normative practices (to be completed within 2 years).
Phase 2: Definition of the theoretical model of normativity as social practice (normative pragmatics)
The second phase had to deal with the definition of the model of normativity as practice. This goal was be accomplished in two steps. The first step will had to provide a general definition of the notion of practice suited for the description of normative practices, and of their main analytical elements. The second step consisted in identifying the main theoretical grounds on which the practical aspects of normativity will have to be taken into account, having in mind Frederick Will’s theory of rational governance of norms (Will 1997, Will 1986), interpreted as a general theory of normativity as practice. The planned outcome of this phase were a) a paper on Will’s theory of normativity, b) a book chapter on the empirical basis of the model of normative practices and c) a book chapter on the taxonomy of normative practices.
Phase 3: Development of an evidence-based taxonomy of normative practices
This phase aimed at providing fuller conceptual content to the theoretical and operational model needed to describe normative practices. Its starting point was the tripartite distinction among critique, justification and institutionalization and the taxonomy distinguishing normative institutions, normative agents, normative acts, and normative locations I have introduced above. Focus will be on empirical studies that have described how ordinary agents engage in normative practices, i.e. how they actively take part in processes of justification and critique of norms. The planned outcome of this phase were two discussion papers to be presented at seminars and interdisciplinary groups at the EHESS and at outer philosophical seminars such as that on Pragmatism jointly led by the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Mathias Girel) and University Paris 1 (Christiane Chauviré, Sandra Laugier). Approximately three critical papers will be produced during the duration of the scholarship.
Although the project had to be shut down 6 month earlier, it has completed the main expected milestones. Concerning the planned outcomes of each phase, the following results have been achieved:
a) An article highlighting the pragmatist origins of the idea of rationality as social institution; DONE
b) An article defining the concept of rationality as social institution and its main conceptual components; DONE
c) An article on the concept of pragmatic objectivity DONE
d) The plan of a book on the theory of normative practices (to be completed within 2 years). DONE
a) A paper on Will’s theory of normativity DONE
b) A book chapter on the empirical basis of the model of normative practices IN PROGRESS
c) A book chapter on the taxonomy of normative practices. IN PROGRESS
a) Three discussion papers ONE COMPLETED, TWO FORTHCOMING.