Normative Discourse

Normative Discourse

Normative Discourse

Normative Discourse

Excerpt

The subject of this book is the logic of evalulating and precribing. I am concerned with the following questions: What is it to evaluate something? What is it to prescribe an act to someone? How can we justify our evaluations and prescriptions? The language in which we express evaluations, prescribe acts, and give reasons for or against evaluations and prescriptions, I call "normative language." When we judge an object to be good or an act to be right, when we tell someone what he ought or ought not to do, and when we try to justify such judgments and prescriptions, we are carrying on normative discourse.

Normative discourse is to be distinguished from scientific, mathematical, and historical discourse, and from any other "universe" of discourse in which language is used for purposes other than the making and justifying of evaluations and prescriptions. What I am doing in this book with regard to the universe of normative discourse may also be done with regard to other universes of discourse. My purpose is, first, to make clear the key concepts used in carrying on normative discourse and, second, to make explicit the rules of reasoning which govern the justification of normative assertions. It is a primary task of philosophy to clarify, by means of an analysis . . .

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