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The adjective normative is ambiguous. It is only used for a subset of the meanings of the term norm (from the Latin norma originally `` angle measure '', but then also guideline, yardstick, rule, regulation ):

There is an overlap and correlation between these three areas . All three parts of the normative include rules , an Shall and / or need, see. Morality .

Normativity is a common concept in many areas. a. used in philosophy , law, and cultural and social sciences . There are two broad groups of thoughts (e.g. theories), namely descriptive (descriptive) and normative. The theory of science , among other things, deals with this duality . In some research approaches, a name component is normative (for example normative-ontological approaches). In jurisprudence, the term has several meanings, see below.


Philosophical normativity specifies how something should be (English: ought ). In philosophy, normative is usually the opposite of the attribute descriptive (descriptive) as a description for theories and concepts. Descriptive statements are sentences about reality and can be checked and, if necessary, also refuted ( falsification ). Normative sentences specify how something should be , i.e. how something should be evaluated. In moral philosophy, for example, it is normatively clarified whether something is good or bad or which actions are morally required.

It was not until the 18th century that David Hume pointed out that there was this logical difference between evaluative and descriptive sentences ( Hume's law ). Various philosophical schools deal with the question of the rationality and objective justifiability of normative sentences. While approaches such as those by Plato , Aristotle , Kant and Habermas are based on this possibility, the empirical-analytical schools (e.g. logical empiricism ) deny this .

A distinction must be made, especially when the term normative is used in connection with theories, between normative theories and teleological theories. In contrast to teleological theories, normative sciences do not attempt to justify the fact that a norm or goal is actually given. Normative theories therefore hypothetically assume a norm as given without justifying why one should follow this norm. However, normative theories describe e.g. B. What conditions must be given or what actions must be performed in order to be able to meet a certain norm. In this respect, normative theories are themselves descriptive. The philosopher and sociologist Georg Simmel expresses this fact like this:

“What is called normative science is actually just science of the normative. It does not standardize anything itself, it only explains norms and their relationships, because science always asks causally, not teleologically, and norms and purposes can form the subject of its investigation like everything else, but not their own essence. "

Legal system

In law and jurisprudence , two basic meanings can be distinguished:

First, the adjective normatively refers to the legal norm . On the other hand, the adjective normatively refers to the measure of a public authority that generally regulates an abstract issue , i.e. H. for a large number of addressees outside the institution itself.

Within legal norms, a distinction is made between normative ( evaluative ) and descriptive ( descriptive ) elements . Their meaning arises through evaluative interpretation . This includes, for example, the term foreign in Section 242 of the Criminal Code or good faith in Section 242 of the Civil Code .

  • Normative provisions in company law are statutory provisions that regulate the content of the articles of association of legal entities.
  • Normative provisions in labor law are statutory provisions that regulate the content of a collective agreement that affect the employment relationships of those bound by collective bargaining .

Social sciences

In the social sciences , normatively describes the part of social and cultural structures that regulates human social activities. Despite existing rule violations (e.g. crimes against legal norms), these social norms lead to a homogeneous , relatively stable social order.

In sociology, normative behavior is used to describe social actions that intend to make something socially acceptable, to quasi normalize it.

The social psychology explores the normative social influence , those influence exerted by groups on the behavior of individuals because they do not want to attract negative attention by violation of group norms.

In economics , a distinction is made between positive and normative economics .

See also



  1. Georg Simmel: Introduction to Moral Science. A Critique of Basic Ethical Concepts. I, p. 321 [1]
  2. ^ Creifelds, Carl (greeting) / Weber, Klaus (ed.): Legal dictionary. 20th edition, Beck, Munich 2011.
  3. Tilch, Horst / Arloth, Frank (eds.): German Legal Lexicon. 3rd edition, Beck, Munich 2001.
  4. ^ Köbler, Gerhard: Legal dictionary. 13th edition, Vahlen, Munich 2005.
  5. Tilch, Horst / Arloth, Frank (eds.): German Legal Lexicon. 3rd edition, Beck, Munich 2001.