The Mental Path of Norms



Abstract.  In this paper, we intend to re-examine our view of norms as two-fold objects, with a mental and social aspect, and a fundamental mechanism of the micro-macro link. In the light of what has been said in Volume 1 of A Treatise of Legal Philosophy and General Jurisprudence (Pattaro 2005), some aspects of a theory developed elsewhere by the authors will be reconsidered. With regard to the mental aspect of norms, the main properties of normative beliefs will be reconsidered and some issues emerging from a reading of Pattaro will be addressed, in particular, (i) normative autonomy, (ii) norm acceptance, and (iii) the interplay between norms and goals. With regard to the external aspect, a unitary view, bridging the gap between conventions and norms, will be put forward, and some steps will be taken towards defining a notion of external (i.e., impersonal) commands, conceived of as a dimension in which both norms and conventions are situated. Finally the applicability of this notion to the study of norm innovation will be discussed.