A reader of this blog commented on my post on norms. She said:
"personally, i believe that norms are purely societal…and adhering to any of them (or not) is you own personal choice regarding what your stance is with being accepted in society or your lack of interest in being accepted in society…or if you deem it necessary as a vehicle for whatever personal purpose"
Hume tells us that ‘reason is the slave of the passions’, that the power of reason is always subject to the power of irreason. (This is something as a Kantian I struggle with but reluctantly accept)
Sometimes we don’t have a choice as to what norms to accept: does a first century Jew know how to object to homophobia? Does a hungry child object to sucking his mother’s teat (Spinoza reference)? Does a fashionable girl in this day and age freely choose to accept the contemporary clothing customs?
I think norms undermine a lot of our freedom. Here is my argument:
I. Norms pervade our culture (proof: empirical)
II. Some norms are non-rational (example: smoking)
III. Reason is the slave of irreason (proof: confabulation and other instantiations of instinct predominating over reason)
IV. If we have freedom at all, it is characterised by rational autonomy (Kantian presupposition)
IV. Since irreason has stronger influence than reason, norms pervade freewill (Lemma: This does not deny freewill, it merely undermines it)