from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A convention (pronunciation: [ kɔnvɛnˈʦi̯oːn ]; from the Latin conventio for "agreement" or "meeting") is a rule (not necessarily stipulated) that is adhered to by a group of people on the basis of a decided consensus . The agreement can be tacitly concluded or negotiated. Accordingly, the meaning of the term fluctuates between arbitrary agreement on the one hand, tradition or custom on the other.

The terms convention and conventionalism also belong to the same root . In addition to the meaning of the (social) conventions, the adjective conventional also has to correspond to those of conventional or traditional methods , for example conventional warfare (as a demarcation from atomic, biological, chemical), conventional agriculture (as a demarcation from organic agriculture ). In art , conventional denotes a not new, not original creative achievement.

Concept history

The great French Encyclopédie still uses the term convention for all forms of agreements, contracts, commitments and promises. Only David Hume defines convention as a general sense of common interest; which sense all the members of the society express to one another, and which induces them to regulate their conduct by certain rules (“a feeling for the common interests which the members of a society express to each other and which induces them to change their behavior to be ordered by certain rules ”). In doing so, he clearly delimits the convention from the contract and the explicit promise. Only communication skills, interest in cooperation and mutual behavioral expectations are important for this to happen. By getting used to them, they lose their artificiality and are accepted as naturally occurring.

Ferdinand Tönnies sees the emergence of a convention in reverse order: a behavioral habit or "custom" at some point loses its naturalness; It is replaced by an “art custom” (e.g. a ceremony ), which is perceived as a rule that corresponds to both general and personal use. The main rule of conventional society is courtesy .

Max Weber only makes a typological distinction between custom and convention; he does not discuss the origins of conventions in more detail. For him, the "established custom" is upheld solely through habit and imitation, the convention, however, through approval or disapproval of the environment, but not through a "coercive apparatus" such as law (and even customary law ).

Following Hume, the philosopher David Kellogg Lewis uses the concept of convention in the sense of a self-stabilizing and perpetuating system of expectations, preferences and rules of behavior that serve interests in solving coordination problems in interaction processes . The rule itself is arbitrary (e.g. the right-hand drive on the road); It often comes about when actors remember that they have previously solved a problem in a satisfactory way in a certain way. If someone deviates from such a rule that is satisfactory for all, he has no advantage. The convention thus resembles a de facto standard.

For John Niemeyer Findlay , moral judgments are not based on individual feelings and preferences, but on conventions regarding the use of words such as “moral” or “ethical”. Only by examining these conventions can moral judgments (for Findley, these are always emotional, not cognitive statements) be justified.

Conventions as social instructions

In the sociology of Émile Durkheim , Norbert Elias , Talcott Parsons and Erving Goffman to Pierre Bourdieu and Anthony Giddens , unwritten, non-formalized social norms (social norms, also: social scripts) are often referred to as conventions. They define possible behaviors in a social situation and indicate behavioral regularities. Conventions are part of the culture of a society and can be changed with the development of society. For Norbert Elias, behavior-regulating conventions (in addition to the monopoly of violence by the state) are an important characteristic of modern civilization . They can also be viewed as a means of restricting the individual, his rights or his possibilities. Anyone who violates existing conventions behaves unconventionally .

Kurt Volkmann writes about the meaning of the Convention :

“You can't teach a twenty-year-old the wisdom of a gray head, you can't make stupid wise, but you can give shape to a maturing person. Posture is more important to young people than cleverness. "

- Kurt Volkmann

Convention theory of language

Parmenides and Democritus can be regarded as the first representatives of the understanding of language as a convention. In Kratylos, Plato explicitly discusses the problem of whether the names of things are based on nature or agreement or custom. It shows that the linguistic signs differ from the thing designated. Aristotle answered the question of the conventionality of language more clearly than Plato , which, however, did not imply any arbitrary placement of the signs of language and no assumptions about their historical development. Even Thomas Hobbes and John Locke represented a conventionalist approach, although they consider the language and the ability to speak as created by God. David Hume regards these conventions as social for the first time, because they are conditioned by people's interest in regular communication. With Johann Gottfried Herder's anthropological-culturalistic view of language and Romanticism, the convention theory of language and linguistic signs lost its importance and was only taken up again in the 20th century (especially in linguistics by Ferdinand de Saussure and in Ludwig Wittgenstein's late work).

Convention as a multilateral treaty

The term convention also describes an international treaty that is concluded multilaterally (multiple sides) and codifies legal norms . In particular, the term “convention” is often used for multilateral treaties that are agreed by a large number of states under the auspices of an international organization - as a distinction to other multilateral treaties such as founding treaties of international organizations (often called “charter” or “statute”) ) or amendment and additional agreements (often "protocol"). A framework convention defines the legal basis and framework , further contracts provide for the design and supplementation (→ framework agreement ).

The conventions include, for example, the agreements that arise under the umbrella of the United Nations (→ UN Convention ). In official German usage, the analogous expression "Convention" is mostly used. Significant examples of conventions are the (bilateral) Tauroggen Convention (1812), a German-Russian pledge of assistance, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, a multilateral agreement on international law itself, or the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was established as a framework agreement through other treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol , has been added.

Technical conventions

Technical conventions are set out in standards .

See also


  • David Lewis: Convention . Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA 1969
  • Dennis Büscher-Ulbrich, Stefanie Kadenbach, Martin Kindermann: Innovation - Convention: Transdisciplinary contributions to a cultural field of tension. Transcript, 2014.

Web links

Wiktionary: Convention  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. David Hume: A treatise of human nature. 1738-1740. Volume III, 2, 2.
  2. Ferdinand Tönnies: The custom. In: The Society; Collection of social psychological monographs, edited by Martin Buber . Frankfurt: Rütten & Loening 1909, p. 7 f.
  3. Tönnies 1909, p. 54.
  4. ^ Max Weber: Economy and Society. 5th edition Tübingen 1980, p. 15 (note), 187.
  5. ^ David Lewis: Convention: A Philosophical Study. Harvard University Press 1969.
  6. ^ JN Findlay: Morality by Conventions , in: Mind , Vol. 33, No. 210: 142-169 (1944).
  7. ^ The Tübinger Rhenanen , 5th edition (2002), p. 167
  8. ^ Plato: Kratylos , 384 ce, 432 c / d, 435 ad.
  9. ^ Aristotle: De interpretatione 16a.
  10. ^ Andreas von Arnauld : Völkerrecht . CF Müller, 2014, ISBN 978-3-8114-6323-3 , pp. 76 .
  11. Otto Kimminich : Introduction to international law . Walter de Gruyter, 2013, ISBN 978-3-11-153378-0 , p. 248 .
  12. Jost Delbrück, Rüdiger Wolfrum (Ed.): The forms of international law action; The content of the international community . Walter de Gruyter, 2013, ISBN 978-3-11-090696-7 , p. 541-542 .