We use normative in the widest nonfactual, nonmodal sense possible. 'Normative' is, then, what relates to a norm or a nonfactual, nonmodal principle, or what accords with a norm or principle in the nonfactual, nonmodal sphere. Hence, our normative may logically apply to any state of being. If it does, we say that such a state of being, or the predicate involved, is normatively superior, inferior, both or neither. In the nonpropositional world no person need be involved in this normative evaluation; in the propositional world this is different, for only persons can develop theories which are incoherent, or say things which are false. When comparing normative with moral, the meaning of moral is narrower: one would not say that someone who develops an incoherent theory or says something that is untrue, even when on purpose, acts 'immorally', unless 'er action somehow affects other beings in the ground-world. And one would certainly not say that a particular state of being is moral or immoral, if no people (or personified beings) are involved in any way. We shall therefore define moral as normative with regard to a person's conduct. In this definition conduct implies a particular concern with the ground-world. 'Nonmoral' is, then, either what is normative, but not with regard to a person's conduct, or what is nonnormative.

The term ethics refers to a system of moral principles by which it is believed that people ought to live, or to the study of such systems. Because the subject of ethics is morality, ethical is often also used as a synonym of moral. Strictly speaking, ethics is in our terminology only part of normative philosophy (even while legal and political philosophy are merely 'normative' in our sense insofar as they are ethical instead of factual or modal). Whereas in nonethical, normative philosophy something is, or can be, normatively superior, inferior, both or neither, without further ado, this is not the case in ethics where we are dealing with the behavior of people who intend or may not intend something, and who have dissimilar motives.

Given that ethics investigates the varieties of thought by which people's 'conduct is guided and may be appraised', its special concern is their actions and the normative principles underlying them. Some theorists, however, reject this 'morality of principles' or 'of doing' and construe morality as primarily a cultivation of certain dispositions and traits, that is, a 'morality of traits' or 'of being' (not to be confused with the normativeness of being in a context not necessarily involving persons). It has been correctly argued before that the one type of morality does not exclude the other, that a morality of doing must 'get off the ground thru the development of dispositions to act in accordance with its principles'. In order to know what traits to evaluate positively and to encourage, one must first subscribe to certain principles to judge them by.

A morality of principles is primarily concerned with people's conduct in particular situations, whereas a morality of traits is primarily concerned with qualities of their conduct which remain the same in many different situations over a long period of time. Nonetheless there is in itself no essential difference between these two approaches, unless a theory claims that traits could do without principle. What is more important is that the 'traits' or 'dispositions' we are dealing with here are not merely tendencies to do certain kinds of actions in certain kinds of situations, but are 'traits of character' as honesty and friendliness. Someone does not have an honest and friendly character because 'e happened to be honest and friendly in one particular situation, yet whether someone does have an honest and friendly character depends on how 'e acts and reacts in particular situations, albeit many of them. We had therefore better concentrate on actions and the morality of doing. As we will see: the morality of being ensues from it, and the normativeness of being precedes it.

Actions are traditionally called "right", "wrong", both or neither; the motives which prompt them "virtuous", "vicious", both or neither; the agents who perform them "praiseworthy", "blameworthy", both or neither; and the consequences to which they give rise "good", "bad", both or neither. (Of these expressions virtuous has a vicious origin: it derives from vir, which means man and denotes manliness and strength, neither of which are, when taken literally, praiseworthy qualities in themselves, let alone praiseworthy qualities before all others. Since androcentrism is a vice, we shall use an uncontaminated term in our own doctrine.)

All normative concepts from right to bad belong to an auxiliary dimension or set with two or three members. Thus there is an auxiliary set of right, wrong and possibly neither right nor wrong. (To say that something is both right and wrong is only comprehensible, if it means 'right in one respect and wrong in another respect'.) Altho this set is not a catena-extensionality, it may resemble either the extensionality of an explicit triad or of a quasi-duad, probably a bipolarity catena. When resembling an explicit triad, the concept neither right nor wrong corresponds to the neutrality, which means that it does apply to actions, but not to nonactions like character traits or states of being: they are 'neither right nor wrong' because they logically cannot be 'right' nor 'wrong'. As part of an auxiliary explicit triad concepts like neither right nor wrong and neither good nor bad are not, and do not refer to, catenated neutralities: at the most they are auxiliary pseudoneutralities.

Antonymical metaphysicians of the yang-yin school have asserted, and may still assert, that a virtuous person would not try to eliminate the bad and strive for the good but would rather try 'to maintain a dynamic balance between good and bad'. This absurd and half-wicked belief is precisely a result of confusing auxiliary concepts such as badness and goodness with nonauxiliary, nonnormative negativities and positivities respectively. (To illustrate this difference for one aspect only: one can sensibly wonder whether something should be small or not, but not whether it should be good or not.) It may be that normative badness is not even an auxiliary pseudonegativity but rather an auxiliary pseudo-bipolarity. Of course, it is the task of those using good and bad to clarify the kind of conceptual relationship between these terms. To say that they have an 'opposite' meaning leaves this relationship in well-nigh complete obscurity.

©MVVM, 41-67 ASWW

Model of Neutral-Inclusivity
Book of Instruments
Elements of Normative Philosophy
The Horizons of a Triple-Tiered Profile