Normative Theory

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What is normative theory? How should it be defined?

While some propositions attempt to describe and explain the world, others prescribe how things ought to be, what is right and what is wrong, what is acceptable and what is not. It is important to provide this class of propositions with a proper scientonomic definition.

In the scientonomic context, this term was first used by Zoe Sebastien in 2015. The term is currently accepted by Scientonomy community.

In Scientonomy, the accepted definition of the term is:

  • A set of propositions that attempts to prescribe something.

Scientonomic History

Acceptance Record

Here is the complete acceptance record of this term (it includes all the instances when the term was accepted as a part of a community's taxonomy):
CommunityAccepted FromAcceptance IndicatorsStill AcceptedAccepted UntilRejection Indicators
Scientonomy1 January 2016It was acknowledged as an open question by the Scientonomy Seminar 2015.Yes

All Theories

The following definitions of the term have been suggested:
TheoryFormulationFormulated In
Normative Theory (Sebastien-2016)A set of propositions that attempts to prescribe something.2016
If a definition of this term is missing, please click here to add it.

Accepted Theories

The following definitions of the term have been accepted:
CommunityTheoryAccepted FromAccepted Until
ScientonomyNormative Theory (Sebastien-2016)15 February 2017

Suggested Modifications

Here is a list of modifications concerning this term:
Modification Community Date Suggested Summary Verdict Verdict Rationale Date Assessed
Sciento-2016-0002 Scientonomy 3 September 2016 Accept a new taxonomy for theory, normative theory, descriptive theory to reintroduce normative propositions (such as those of ethics or methodology) to the scientific mosaic. Not Accepted Since this modification consisted of two interrelated but essentially distinct suggestions - one definitional and one ontological - it was decided by the community to divide it into two modifications so that the gist of the proposed suggestions is properly articulated. In particular, it was agreed that there are two modifications in "the heart of this single modification - one ontological, the other definitional".c1 It was also agreed that the current formulation "is exclusively definitional, and does not give the community an opportunity to appreciate (and, well, accept) the ontological changes that come along with it".c2 Consequently, it was decided to divide this modification into two modifications - one definitional and one ontological.c3 23 January 2017
Sciento-2017-0001 Scientonomy 23 January 2017 Accept new definitions for theory, normative theory, and descriptive theory. Also, modify the definition of methodology to reflect these changes. Accepted The community agreed that this is "an important addition to theoretical scientonomy".c1 It was agreed that since "the paradox of normative propositions has been solved, a revised set of definitions was needed".c2 It was emphasized that if we're going to have any sort of conversation on the status of normative propositions in the mosaic, "then we need to start from a definition".c3 15 February 2017

Current Definition

In Scientonomy, the accepted definition of the term is Normative Theory (Sebastien-2016).

Normative Theory (Sebastien-2016) states: "A set of propositions that attempts to prescribe something."

Normative Theory (Sebastien-2016).png

While not explicitly stated, the definition assumes that normative propositions involve evaluation, i.e. they "say how something ought to be, what's good or bad, what's right or wrong".1p. 12 In contrast with descriptive propositions, normative propositions do not aim to tell how things are, were, or will be, but rather what is good or bad, desirable or undesirable, permissible or impermissible.



In Scientonomy, it is currently accepted that "There is such a thing as a normative theory."


In Scientonomy, no classes are currently accepted as disjoint with Normative Theory.


In Scientonomy, the accepted subtype of Normative Theory is:


In Scientonomy, the following supertype of Normative Theory is currently accepted:


In Scientonomy, there are currently no accepted associations of Normative Theory.

Epistemic Stances Towards Normative Theories

In Scientonomy, the accepted answers to the question can be summarized as follows:

If a question concerning the ontology of a normative theory is missing, please add it here.


Mechanism of Scientific Inertia for Normative Theories

The question has no accepted answer.

Necessary Normative Theories

In Scientonomy, the accepted answer to the question is:

  • In order for the process of scientific change to be possible, the mosaic must necessarily contain at least one employed method.

If a question concerning the dynamics of a normative theory is missing, please add it here.


  1. ^  Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.