Human Studies

, Volume 33, Issue 2–3, pp 305–323 | Cite as

Normativism, Anti-Normativism and Humanist Pragmatism

Stephen P. Turner: Explaining the Normative. Polity Press, Cambridge, 2010, pbk. $24.95, hbk. $69.95, 228 pp + index
  • Maksymilian Del Mar
Review Essay


Stephen Turner’s latest book, Explaining the Normative (2010), is an incisive and important critique of what he calls “normativism.” Turner recognises that the philosophical family that refers to and is enthusiastic about normativity is diverse—for some, even those who would consider themselves members of it, it is really too diverse to be thought of as a unit (e.g. Finlay 2010). Nevertheless, Turner asserts that he has found “a common form of argument underlying various assertions about the necessity or indispensability of the normative, and therefore of normativity” (p. 9). Further, he argues that this common form of argument contains “a large number of genetic defects” (p. 9), it being the aim of the book to reveal them.

In the background here, as Turner himself confesses, is a reaction to his earlier work, The Social Theory of Practices (1994). In that book, Turner criticised what was fast becoming (and arguably still is) a popular concept in both philosophy and the...


  1. Beiser, F. (2009). Normativity in Neo-Kantianism: Its rise and fall. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 17(1), 9–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bertea, S. (2009). The normative claim of the law. Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  3. Boghossian, P. (1989). The rule-following considerations. Mind, 98(392), 507–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brown, R. (1963). Explanation in social science. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  5. De Caro, M., & MacArthur, D. (Eds.). (2004). Naturalism in question. Mass: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. De Caro, M., & MacArthur, D. (Eds.). (2010). Naturalism and normativity. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Delacroix, S. (2006). Legal norms and normativity. Oxford: Hart Publishing.Google Scholar
  8. deVries, W. A. (Ed.). (2010). Empiricism, perceptual knowledge, normativity, and realism: Essays on Wilfrid Sellars. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Finlay, S. (2010). Recent work on normativity. Analysis, 70(2), 331–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gallagher, S. (2008). Direct perception in the intersubjective context. Consciousness and Cognition, 17(2), 535–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gilbert, M. (1990). Walking together: A paradigmatic social phenomenon. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 15(1), 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Hart, H. L. A. (1961). The concept of law. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hunter, I. (2005). Kant’s religion and prussian religious policy. Modern Intellectual History, 2(1), 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Korsgaard, C. (1996). The sources of normativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lacey, N. (2004). The nightmare and the noble dream: A life of H.L.A. Hart. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Marmor, A. (2009). Social conventions: From language to law. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  17. McPherson, T. (2010). Against quietist normative realism. Philosophical Studies (Online First, 11 March 2010).Google Scholar
  18. Pareto, V. (1935). The mind and society. New York: Harcourt Brace.Google Scholar
  19. Parfit, D. (2006). Normativity. In R. Shafer-Landau (Ed.), Oxford studies in metaethics (pp. 325–380). Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  20. Parfit, D. (forthcoming). On what matters. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Prinz, J. (2007). The emotional construction of morals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Railton, P. (1999). Normative force and normative freedom: Hume and Kant, but Not Hume Versus Kant. Ratio, 12, 320–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Raz, J. (1999). Explaining normativity: On rationality and the justification of reason. Ratio, 12, 354–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Robertson, S. (Ed.). (2009). Spheres of reason: New essays in the philosophy of normativity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Roth, P. (1987). Meaning and method in the social sciences: A case for methodological pluralism. New York: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Roth, P. (2003). Mistakes. Synthese, 136, 389–408.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rouse, J. (2007). Social practices and normativity. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 37(1), 46–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Shah, N. (2003). How truth governs belief. Philosophical Review, 112(4), 447–482.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Smith, M. (2006). The law as a social practice: Are shared activities at the foundation of law? Legal Theory, 12, 265–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Turner, S. P. (1994). The social theory of practices. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  31. Turner, S. P. (2002). Brains/practices/relativism. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  32. Turner, S. P. (2003). What do we mean by “We”? Protosociology: An International Journal of Interdisciplinary Research, 18–19, 139–162.Google Scholar
  33. Turner, S. P. (2007). Explaining normativity. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 37(1), 57–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Turner, S. P. (2010). Explaining the normative. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  35. Turner, S. P. (forthcoming). Following the thought of another: Normative or naturalisable? In S. Lanzoni, R. Brain (Eds.), Varieties of empathy in science, art, and culture. Google Scholar
  36. Wedgewood, R. (2007). The nature of normativity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Winch, P. (1958). The idea of social science and its relation to philosophy. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  38. Winch, P. (1964). Understanding a primitive society. American Philosophical Quarterly, 1, 307–324.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Social SciencesUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations