Rice University

Events at Rice

Lecture/Lecture Series

Dean of Humanities

Speaker: Mark Okrent
Professor of Philosophy
Bates College

Human Practices and Responsiveness to Two-Dimensional Practical Norms

Friday, March 10, 2017
4:15 PM  to 6:15 PM

Rice University
6100 Main St
Houston, Texas, USA

ABSTRACT: Humans and baboons are both social primates who make a living by living together in complex, highly organized societies, societies in which individuals occupy, synchronically and diachronically, a variety of differentiated social roles. Insofar as both humans and baboons make their livings in this social way there is an important sense in which both humans and baboons live in a world that is defined by a set of social ‘practices’: Baboons, as well as humans, are sensitive to the rules and norms that define the practices that organize their social environment. Nevertheless, humans are not baboons. In important ways humans are not even the same kind of social animal as baboons. And the most important qualitative differences between baboons and humans show up in the significant differences between the kinds of norms that specify their respective practices, and the types of abilities required to be responsive to these different kinds of practical norms. In this paper I discuss the character of the kind of practical norms responsiveness to which defines the unique nature of human life.

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