On the deification of social norms.

In this note, I focus on Coleman’s treatment of social norms. I believe his treatment is deeply unsatisfactory. It is a piece of crypto-functionalism, in spite of his official rejection of that method (pp. 259-260) and his professed methodological individualism (p. 5). It is also somewhat panglossian, in its emphasis on the beneficial effects of norms. Although Coleman is fully aware of norms that benefit only a subset of the relevant community, at the expense of others, he completely ignores norms that make everybody worse off (examples are offered later).  (Elster, 2003)