9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN29 Social Theory

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Philosophy of Social Science: Are there Limits of Social Constructions? Building AA, AA.326

Are Norms Limited to Human Beings? A necessary debate between sociology and evolutionary biology

Since Durkheim normativity has been treated as an essential medium for guiding human action and processes of social integration. Sociologists usually link this view with the belief that the normative coordination of action is limited to human beings. Recently, the latter assumption has fundamentally become doubted by biologists (ethologists; socio-biologists). On the basis of studies in the wild they suppose to provide sufficient evidence for a normative coordination of animal behaviour.

We would like to take this challenge seriously. With help of the analytical tools of sociology, we will try to clarify relevant differences between human societies and animals living in groups. In particular, with respect to the normative coordination of behaviour the question shall be raised, whether in the case of human beings the evolutionary heritage just increases in quantitative regard compared to a former mode of behavioural coordination, or whether we have to conceptualize a qualitative break within the evolutionary process. Finally, we will discuss to what extent the sociological understanding of normativity must be extended by concepts developed within evolutionary theory.