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Discussion

A new type of convention?

Some remarks on Bruno Celano’s Pre-conventions
Dale Smith
p. 69–76

Abstracts

In “Pre-conventions: A fragment of the Background”, Bruno Celano argues for the existence and philosophical significance of what he calls “pre-conventions” – a type of convention distinct from those hitherto discussed in the literature, and which transcends a number of orthodox philosophical distinctions. In these comments, I suggest that Celano may have shown that there is a distinct type of convention governing judgments of style or taste. If so, we may learn some important lessons (e.g. concerning the relationship between conventions and rules) by examining this new type of convention. However, I express doubts about whether the broader ambitions of Celano’s paper are fulfilled. I contend that pre-conventions are not as common as he suggests, and are not present in some of the other examples he gives. I also express doubts about whether he is right to suggest that there is a distinct type of convention that renders possible the development of conventions of the sort which David Lewis was interested in.

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Excerpt

In open access from December 2018.

First lines

In a fascinating and wide-ranging paper, Bruno Celano argues for the existence and philosophical significance of what he calls “pre-conventions” – a type of convention distinct from those hitherto discussed in the literature, and which transcends a number of orthodox distinctions. Pre-conventions, says Celano, differ from both rules and de facto regularities, while possessing features of each. Similarly, they transcend the fact/norm and nature/convention distinctions – they are “normative facts” which have features of both the natural and the conventional.

The term “pre-convention” might be thought to describe something that is not itself a convention, but (in some sense) comes before genuine conventions. However, Celano is clear that this is not what he is claiming. Pre-conventions are, he says, genuine conventions. Indeed, he suggests that they are, in a sense, primary. As we shall see, he claims that they make possible the existence of certain other conventions. More generally, wh...

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References

Bibliographical reference

Dale Smith, « A new type of convention? », Revus, 30 | 2016, 69–76.

Electronic reference

Dale Smith, « A new type of convention? », Revus [Online], 30 | 2016, Online since 01 December 2018, connection on 20 August 2017. URL : http://revus.revues.org/3471 ; DOI : 10.4000/revus.3471

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About the author

Dale Smith

Senior Lecturer at the Melbourne Law School, University of Melbourne

Dale Smith
University of Melbourne
185 Pelham Street, Carlton
Victoria, Victoria 3010
Australia

E-mail: dale.smith@unimelb.edu.au

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