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 question was first formulated by Zoe Sebastien in 2016. The question is currently accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by Scientonomy community. Normative Theory (Sebastien-2016) is currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available definition of the term. It is defined as: "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
Scientonomy3 September 2016The question became accepted as legitimate with the publication of Sebastien (2016).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:
ModificationCommunityDate SuggestedSummaryVerdictVerdict RationaleDate Assessed
Sciento-2016-0002Scientonomy3 September 2016Accept 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 AcceptedSince 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.c323 January 2017
Sciento-2017-0001Scientonomy23 January 2017Accept new definitions for theory, normative theory, and descriptive theory. Also, modify the definition of methodology to reflect these changes.AcceptedThe 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".c315 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, there are currently no accepted claims concerning the existence of Normative Theory.


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


In Scientonomy, the following subtypes of Normative Theory are currently accepted:


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 answer to the question is "In addition to stances that can be taken towards theories of all types, norms can in principle be employed by epistemic agents."

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


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.

Related Topics

This term is also related to the following topic(s):


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