Normativists vs. Naturalists

November 5, 2007

Here’s another way to frame this debate: the normativists (Rouse, Risjord, and Steuber) think that normativity plays some role in the generation of human behavior, and the naturalists (Turner, Henderson, and Roth) reject all such proposals as invoking the “supernatural.”

For the sake of argument, accept the naturalists’ view, but distinguish the what, how, and why of action, and note that their causal explanations can only really get at the how. But social sciences and social theory have to be concerned with the what and the why of action as well. In many cases, “how” is the least interesting aspect of human behavior.