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The Normative Animal?On the Anthropological Significance of Social, Moral, and Linguistic Norms$
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Neil Roughley and Kurt Bayertz

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190846466

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190846466.001.0001

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On the Uniqueness of Human Normative Attitudes

On the Uniqueness of Human Normative Attitudes

(p.121) 6 On the Uniqueness of Human Normative Attitudes
The Normative Animal?

Marco F. H. Schmidt

Hannes Rakoczy

Oxford University Press

Humans are normative beings through and through. This capacity for normativity lies at the core of uniquely human forms of understanding and regulating socio-cultural group life. Plausibly, therefore, the hominin lineage evolved specialized social-cognitive, motivational, and affective abilities that helped create, transmit, preserve, and amend shared social practices. In turn, these shared normative attitudes and practices shaped subsequent human phylogeny, constituted new forms of group life, and hence structured human ontogeny, too. An essential aspect of human ontogeny is therefore its reciprocal nature regarding normativity. This chapter reviews recent evidence from developmental psychology suggesting that, from early on, human children take a normative attitude toward others’ conduct in social interactions, and thus a collectivistic and impersonal perspective on norms. The chapter discusses to what extent humans’ closest living primate relatives lack normative attitudes and therefore live in a non-normative socio-causal world structured by individual preferences, power relationships, and regularities.

Keywords:   social-cognitive development, social norms, normativity, child development, developmental psychology, moral development, morality, comparative psychology, primates

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