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How to make norms with drawings: An investigation of normativity beyond the realm of words

Giuseppe Lorini EMAIL logo and Stefano Moroni
From the journal Semiotica


A widespread opinion holds that norms and codes of conduct as such can only be established via words, that is, in some lexical form. This perspective can be criticized: some norms produced by human acts are not word-based at all. For example, many norms are actually conveyed through graphics (e. g. road signs and land-use maps), sounds (e. g. the referee’s whistle), a silent gesture (the traffic warden’s signal to halt). In this article, we will focus on the norms that are created by means of drawings and can be termed “drawn norms” or “graphical norms.” Specifically, we will inquire into the phenomenon of graphical norms with particular regard to traffic signs and land-use plans, and we will discuss the philosophical and legal problems to which these phenomena give rise.


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Published Online: 2020-02-19
Published in Print: 2020-03-26

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