What is factual relates to factual conditions or facts; what is modal (impossible, improbable, and so on) relates to modal conditions or 'modes' --as we shall call them-- and what is inferior, neither inferior nor superior or superior relates to normative conditions or norms. Each one of these three types of entity has its own ontological status, and none of them is more real or concrete than the other. Skeptics might object that norms, unlike facts, do not exist, except maybe as factual, propositional attitudes or expressions thereof -- as cultural or subcultural norms that is. They may add that we cannot perceive them thru our senses, and that we cannot arrive at them in a rational and/or objective way. But that we cannot perceive them is no reason at all to reject their existence. It is also impossible to perceive predicates and the thoughts of other people. More importantly, it is also impossible to perceive facts. The skeptic may now rejoin that we may not be able to see facts, but that we are able to decide from what we see what is a fact or not. Yet, if 'e is a skeptic at all, 'e must admit that 'e merely sees patches of different colors and tones, and that 'e cannot immediately derive from a white patch in 'er own visual field the 'fact' that 'e sees, say, a white piece of paper, let alone that this piece of paper is white in some objective sense. It is not that plain either what would be a fact in a field like, for example, nuclear physics, where the connection between what is observed and what is called "a fact" is far remoter. Factual statements always or usually require an additional cognitive processing, that is, a lot of extra reasoning, and one should not allow this in the factual sphere while disallowing it in the normative sphere. It is precisely the question of how to arrive at norms in a way which does not basically differ in plausibility from the assessment of facts which is a major challenge of this whole Model.

Skeptics might also query the definition of the word norm . This is a very difficult question indeed, yet not different from the problem of how to define a 'fact'. We are able to define norms without being able to exactly and satisfactorily define what a 'norm' is, just as we are able to define facts without being able to exactly and satisfactorily define what a 'fact' is. If we assert that a norm is what one or a thing ought to have, to be or to do, then this leaves us with the question of what ought means, just as the assertion that a fact 'exists' if, and when, there is a relationship between two things leaves us with the question of what is means. (Compare the assertion that a norm 'exists' if, and when, there ought to be a relationship between two things.) And if we assert that a norm is what makes a normative proposition true or correct, then this leaves us with the question of what true or correct (and normative) mean, just as facts also leave us with the question of what true means (that is, correct with respect to descriptive or factual propositions). Or, if we assert that a norm is what makes a state of affairs proper or superior, then this leaves us with the question of what proper or superior mean (independently of the content of a particular norm), just as the statement that a fact is what makes a state of affairs occurring leaves us with the question of what occurring means. All these considerations show that the 'realness' of factual, modal and normative conditions is in principle the same. There may be gradual differences but either all three spheres are real or none of them is, and either all three of them are impenetrable or none of them is.

The notions fact, mode and norm are not only distinct notions (or factual, modal and normative conditions not only distinct entities) in the world of things like positrons, plants and people, they are also distinct notions (or entities) in propositional reality, that is, the world of thoughts and propositional attitudes. Also then norms are not facts (nor are modes or probabilities). Yet they have been, or still are, not seldom looked upon in this context as mere psychological and/or sociological data. This is understandable because in the realm of individual and social behavior there is a more or less complex pattern of standards indicating what is expected or considered normal, and referred to when judging the behavior of oneself and of others. It is this pattern, or these standards, which are (also) called "the norm" or "norms". Most of these cultural or subcultural norms, however, do themselves not pertain to propositional reality (to what one should think or how one should reason) but to nonpropositional reality (to what one should be or do).

Having an opinion on what should be, or thinking about norms, affects the position of the normative as little as thinking about facts or modes affects the position of the factual or the modal. From an ontological angle normative conditions do not belong less or more to the realm of propositional attitudes than factual and modal conditions do. Some might believe tho that there is a difference in scope, that the range of facts and modes is the whole of reality, whereas the range of norms would merely be the behavior of people or human beings. Even if this were always the case, it would not render the behavioral norm ontologically dependent. What one ought to have (to be or to do) according to such a norm might still be entirely different from what would be normal or expected according to a factual, psychological or sociological pattern or standard (however large a majority would support such a cultural norm).

The question whether a norm in the ontological sense does always exclusively govern the behavior of human beings or persons is a subject of normative philosophy and ideology because it concerns the actual content of norms, at least as far as nonpropositional reality is concerned. Since it is always persons who have thoughts (corresponding to propositional attitudes), ontological norms which relate to propositional reality, that is, propositional norms, do indeed concern (the propositional attitudes of) persons -- another content is not possible. But, conceptually speaking, norms may for any thing specify what relation it should have with whatever kind of other thing, whether it is human or nonhuman, living or nonliving, a thought, or something else. The function of those things for people or human, or other, living beings does not matter either, from a general ontological point of view.

©MVVM, 41-69 ASWW

Model of Neutral-Inclusivity
Book of Instruments
About What Is, Can and Should Be
Three Times, Three Spheres