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Rules and norms

Two kinds of normative behaviour
Marco Brigaglia
p. 33–57


Celano’s notion of a “pre-convention” is grounded in the opposition between two allegedly different kinds of normative behaviour: observing a “rule” and conforming to a “norm”. This opposition plays a central role in Celano’s paper, and marks a crucial point in his intellectual trajectory. Nevertheless, it remains largely implicit. In this paper, I try to make it fully explicit, giving a more precise characterisation of both kinds of normative behaviour. I also focus on the importance of distinguishing between them, express some conjectures (or wishes) regarding Celano’s future research, and propose a (marginal) criticism.

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In open access from December 2018.


1 Introduction
2 The Rules vs. Norms Framework
2.1 “Explicit” rules and rule-guided behaviour
2.2 Norms and norm-conforming behaviour
2.3 Dynamics of rules and norms
3 Some comments about the Rules vs. Norms Framework
3.1 Rules and norms in Pre-conventions
3.2 Rules and norms beyond Pre-conventions
3.3 Further developments
3.4 A methodological issue
4 Conclusions

First lines

1 Introduction

There do exist, Celano argues, entities which can be characterised as “normative facts”: regularly followed patterns of action (factual regularities) which, as such, constitute standards of correctness (norms). “Pre-conventions” are a peculiar kind of such entities.

Following Celano, a pre-convention is a social structure defined by the following conditions.

(1) Members of a social group G (let us call them “the Gs”) behave regularly, performing actions that satisfy a certain action type A, in circumstances that satisfy a certain situation type S. Let us say, in short, that the Gs replicate the behavioural scheme “A in S”. In this respect, “A in S” is a factual regularity amongst the Gs.

(2) The replication of “A in S” by the Gs is “automatic”: it happens without reasoning and deliberate choice, and is, as such, different from and irreducible to the observance of the “rule”, or the system of rules, which prescribes the doing of A in S. In doing A in S, therefore, the Gs a...

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Bibliographical reference

Marco Brigaglia, « Rules and norms », Revus, 30 | 2016, 33–57.

Electronic reference

Marco Brigaglia, « Rules and norms », Revus [Online], 30 | 2016, Online since 01 December 2018, connection on 18 January 2018. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/revus.3447

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About the author

Marco Brigaglia

Researcher in Philosophy of Law, Department of Law, University of Palermo

Marco Brigaglia
Dipartimento di Giurisprudenza
Piazza Bologni 8
90134 Palermo


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