The Logic and Normative Force of Dual-Character Generics: Towards a Theoretical Model for the Study of Normatively Shifted Predications

  • 1 University of Białystok,


This paper investigates the relationship between generic statements and the expression, transmission and persistence of social norms. The author presents the concept of normativity and its importance in the decision-making process in the context of social reality and social norms that comprise it (Bicchieri, 2006, 2016; Bicchieri et al., 2018). The paper analyses the idea of “what is normal” (Haslanger, 2014) to show how social norms are triggered by particular generic constructions relating to “social kinds”, represented by noun phrases denoting “dual character concepts” (Knobe et al., 2013; Prasada et al., 2013; Leslie, 2015). DCCs are shown as effectively serving their persuasive and explanatory function due to their polysemous nature (Leslie, 2015) rather than to different pragmatics (Leslie, forthcoming). Special focus is placed on gender terms as particularly salient social kinds; this salience can be explained by a culturally pivotal role of social constructs of manhood and womanhood and by linguistic potential of generics in the development of social beliefs and legitimizing norm-driven behaviours.

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