Edouard Machery is in town, that is, Mexico City and has been a great opportunity, not only to catch up with an old friend but to think deeper about the cognitive aspects of normativity, a complex and severely understudied topic in philosophy. In particular, it made me aware of the common disregard, among many scholars, of the many role norms play in behaviour and cognition. People commonly talk of norms as if they were a single phenomenon, even though the evidence points towards there being important differences between:
- the norms we use to assess other people’s behaviour
- the norms we use to assess other people’s character
- the norms we use to assess our own behaviour and to justify it to others and ourselves
- the norms we use to assess our own character
- the norms we use to assess hypothetical behaviour, that is, how we (think we would) behave in hypothetical scenarios
- the norms that guide our behaviour
In some of my previous work with my colleague Ángeles Eraña, we used to stress the importance between making a sharp distinction between norms of assessment and guiding norms, but the evidence seems to point towards the need for making even finer distinctions. Furthermore, there remains much work to be done about the relations between norms of all these kinds. For example, when we assess hypothetical behaviour, that is, how we (think we would) behave in hypothetical scenarios, do we drop a third person perspective on our own hypothetical behaviour or is it the other way around, i.e., we assess other people’s behaviour by putting ourselves in their place, so to speak, through imagination, and then proceed to assess what we would do in such situations?