The Law of Norm Employment (Rawleigh-2022)

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This is an answer to the question Mechanism of Norm Employment that states "A norm becomes employed only if it is derivable from a non-empty subset of other elements of the mosaic."

The Law of Norm Employment (Rawleigh-2022).png

The Law of Norm Employment was formulated by William Rawleigh in 2022.1 It is also known as The Third Law. It is currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available answer to the question.

Scientonomic History

Acceptance Record

Here is the complete acceptance record of this theory:
CommunityAccepted FromAcceptance IndicatorsStill AcceptedAccepted UntilRejection Indicators
Scientonomy21 February 2024The law became accepted as a result of the acceptance of the respective modification.Yes

Suggestions To Accept

Here are all the modifications where the acceptance of this theory has been suggested:

Modification Community Date Suggested Summary Date Assessed Verdict Verdict Rationale
Sciento-2022-0002 Scientonomy 28 February 2022 Accept the new law of norm employment that fixes some of the issues of the current law of method employment and makes it applicable to norms of all types. 21 February 2024 Accepted Prior to the 2024 workshop, Hakob Barseghyan commented on the encyclopedia with his opinion that the modification should be accepted given that the formulation seemed relatively future-proof: it would not have to change even if more elements are included into our ontology. Paul Patton and Cameron Scott raised some concerns about the differences between norm employment and norm acceptance, and about the derivability of norms from agents’ mosaics, given cases in the history of science where agents accept a norm that is derivable from their mosaic but do not act accordingly (that is, they fail to employ the norm). However, it was noted that this is a separate issue from what the modification aims to do: the law of norm employment does not describe what happens to norms that are already present in the mosaic, but merely describes how norms come to be part of the mosaic. Yet, the discrepancy in the community’s accepted definitions of norm acceptance (as a subtype of theory acceptance) and norm employment was highlighted as a pertinent issue for later focus. After this clarification, there were no further issues raised, and the modification was accepted by over a two-thirds majority of voters. 14 out of 16 votes were for acceptance.

Question Answered

The Law of Norm Employment (Rawleigh-2022) is an attempt to answer the following question: How do norms become employed by an epistemic agent?

See Mechanism of Norm Employment for more details.


Sebastien's law of method employment faces several problems. Foremost among these is that it is based on an outdated ontology that assumes that methods of theory evaluation are a fundamental epistemic element. After the acceptance of Barseghyan’s proposal that methods be subsumed under the category of normative theories, the third law no longer exhaustively covers all situations cases of employment. In its present form it is limited to methods, though there is no reason to think that the mechanism by which a method is employed is any different than the mechanism by which any other norm is employed.

In addition, Sebastien's formulation of the third law uses the term deducible, which currently lacks a scientonomic definition. We do not currently know what it means for something to be deducible, what the criteria of deducibility would be, or whether the conditions of deducibility would be part of the first-order theories of the mosaic or part of the second-order theories that range over the mosaic.

The third issue with Sebastien's formulation is that, with the acceptance of questions into the epistemic elements of the ontology of scientific change, the elements of the mosaic are now more expansive than just theories and subtypes of theories. This means that there is a plausible situation in which norms could potentially be derived – at least in part – from questions, which means that a formulation of the third law that excludes questions would fail to comprehensively describe all cases of norm employment.

The new law of norm employment aims to remedy all three of these issues:

  • the formulation of the covers all norms rather than only methods;
  • it replaces a deducible with derivable, which in the context of mathematical model theory simply means to be semantically entailed, and thus can potentially include non-deductive inferences (e.g. inductive, abductive);
  • it replaces a specific enumeration of epistemic elements with a general "elements of the mosaic".

This formulation also offers the slight clarification that derivability strictly deals with derivation from a finite number of other elements.


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Questions About This Theory

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  1. ^  Rawleigh, William. (2022) Reconceiving Scientific Mosaics: A New Formalization for Theoretical Scientonomy. In Barseghyan et al. (Eds.) (2022), 83-103.