Peter Winch on Norms and Conventions


Université de Strasbourg, Faculté de Philosophie, 07, rue de l'Université, 67084 Strasbourg, France,


In one of his finest papers, Peter Winch establishes a distinction between norms and conventions and suggests that the latter is unable to account for many human institutions and practices. He argues that an empirical alternative must be conceivable in order for a norm to be considered as a convention and adds that many of the most central norms in different meaningful ways of life do not fulfil this condition. The aim of this article is to examine some of the consequences of this distinction for anthropological thought.