No. 17 (2019): Rules without Words: Inquiries into Non-Linguistic Normativities
Section 3. Outside the Human Social World

Animal Normativity

Laura Danón
National University of Córdoba

Published 2019-12-15


  • primitive normativity,
  • ought-thoughts,
  • secondary representations,
  • animal minds

How to Cite

Danón, L. (2019). Animal Normativity. Phenomenology and Mind, (17), 176–187.


Many philosophers think that human animals are the only normative creatures. In this paper, I will not provide reasons against such a claim, but I will engage in a related task: delineating and comparing two deflationary accounts of what non-human animal normativity could consist in. One of them is based on Hannah Ginsborg’s notion of primitive normativity and the other on my conjecture that some creatures may have first-order robust “ought-thoughts”, composed by secondary representations about how things should be or about how one should act. Once I have sketched both models, I will focus on identifying some cognitive differences between creatures merely having primitive normativity and those also having robust ought-thoughts. Finally, I will draw a few tentative remarks on the kind of empirical evidence that would suggest that an animal has one or another of these two kinds of normativity.


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