In the following attempt at a further clarification of the methodological aspects of Marxian theory construction it is demonstrated that central arguments in the first part of the Kapital, especially the description of the development from simple to capitalist commodity production, can be analysed as functional explanations in the modern logical sense. At the same time it becomes clear that some questionable conclusions which have been arrived at on the basis of this description, e.g. the development of capitalism being a necessary condition for the later formation of socialism, can be understood as results of certain methodological defects in Marx’ functional explanations.
In sociology, social philosophy, social ontology, and classical choice theory the notion of a social norm is usually introduced by using a rich normative, semantic, and social vocabulary, while the notions that evolutionary game theory proceeds from seem too poor to elucidate the idea of social norms. In this paper, I suggest to define a notion of social norms that is as basic as possible, in the sense that it relies only on notions like affects, feelings as well as regularities, standards, and corrections of behaviour. These notions suffice to explain non-linguistic traditions, practices, sanctions, and, finally, basic social norms. Two of the aims of the paper are, first, to clarify the idea of genuine normativity and second, to explore whether the sort of normativity involved in basic social norms is part of a bridge between nature and the social realm.