ONLINE LECTURE Kristin Andrews: “Examining social norms in humans and other animals”

October 5 2022, 15:30 – 17:00 CET

Social norms—rules governing which behaviors are deemed appropriate or inappropriate within a given community—are typically taken to be uniquely human. Recently, this position has been challenged (Andrews 2020; Danón 2019; Fitzpatrick 2020; Kappeler et al. 2019; von Rohr et al. 2011). The view that norms are human unique stems from commitments regarding the psychological capacities required for having them, and skepticism that animals possess these prerequisites (Birch 2020; Rakoczy and Schmidt 2019; Schlingoff and Moore 2017; Tomasello 2016). However, among norm cognition researchers there is little agreement about the cognitive architecture that underpins social norms in humans. This makes empirical study of animal social norms difficult at this stage. To make progress, we draw inspiration from the animal culture research program, and offer an operationalized account of social norms. We propose examining normative regularities: a socially maintained pattern of behavioral conformity within a community (Westra and Andrews, forthcoming). We suggest methods for studying social norms in wild and captive primate populations.

Kristin Andrews is York Research Chair in Animal Minds and Professor of Philosophy at York University (Toronto), where she also helps coordinate the Cognitive Science program and the Greater Toronto Area Animal Cognition Discussion Group. Kristin is on the board of directors of the Borneo Orangutan Society Canada, a member of the College of the Royal Society of Canada, and the author of several books on social minds, animal minds, and ethics.

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