With Donald Trump now president-elect, many people are concerned that something truly precious and fundamental is under threat. Though Americans disagree about many things, we traditionally had a shared national sense of the bounds of normal behavior and a seemingly entrenched understanding that certain kinds of behavior fell completely outside those bounds. There is now a widespread fear that Trump’s recent actions will be ‘normalized’ and that our shared understanding of the normal will then be lost.
I think that this fear is getting at something of deep importance, and it is therefore worth taking a moment to think philosophically about what is at stake here. What exactly does it mean to see certain behavior as normal?