Aside from an appeal to common sense, what are the strongest contemporary arguments for the existence of social rules? By social rules, I mean social rules in the tradition of Durkheim, Weber, Hart, etc. These philosophers, to varying degrees, argued that there exist certain social rules or social regularities that "structure" society. Some have argued that these social rules are always normative. Others have argued that they need not be (i.e., Searle). An example would be the "social rule" to drive on the right side of the road. This social rule is also a legal rule and carries sanctions. But, we need not draw such secondary distinctions for the purposes of this question.

  • It's not at all clear (at least to me) what such an argument could even look like. How would you prove the existence of, say, the Rocky Mountains, without any appeal to empirical observation? – WillO Dec 21 '15 at 17:32
  • So, given the question is "What's the evidence that social rules exist?" -- maybe it would be constructive to try to motivate this doubt about the existence of social rules a bit? What sorts of arguments have you encountered that seem to imply social rules might not exist? – Joseph Weissman Dec 21 '15 at 18:25
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    The language needs help. If you can give me an example of something we can agree on and its effects, you have evidence of its existence, whether or not it strictly fits any specific definition proposed. Are you questioning the necessity of social rules. Are you asking whether these social rules are an epiphenomenon of something more basic or a mere simplifying abstraction covering other mechanisms? You need to ask something more specific. – user9166 Dec 21 '15 at 18:37