Henrik Lagerlund

Norms and Nature from Plato to Hume

A striking thing about us humans is that we have values. We think that some things are better than others and that some things could have been better than they are. Value judgments, or judgements about what ought and ought not to be the case, are called ‘normative judgments’, and ‘norms’ has become an umbrella term for anything involving value or oughts. Such judgments are also, at least nowadays, distinguished from judgments of facts, suggesting that there is a distinction between a world of facts and a world of norms. But if the world of norms is distinct from the world of facts, or nature, then where are norms located, and how do they occur in the first place? The purpose of the proposed scientific meeting is to initiate a research program, which will take a systematic look at how philosophers viewed the relationship between norms and nature from the time of Plato and Aristotle in Ancient Greece to David Hume in the eighteenth century. It attempts to trace a story of how norms went from being considered more fundamental than nature, and as properties of nature, to being considered separate from, and even as projections of sentiments onto nature. This will take us through some of the most important events and some of the most important philosophers of the history of philosophy from Ancient, Medieval (both Arab and Latin), and Early Modern times.
Grant administrator
Stockholm University
Reference number
SEK 155,000.00
Research initiation