The Commens Dictionary

Quote from ‘Minute Logic: Chapter II. Prelogical Notions. Section I. Classification of the Sciences (Logic II)’


A normative science is one which studies what ought to be. How then does it differ from engineering, medicine, or any other practical science? If, however, logic, ethics, and esthetics, which are the families of normative science, are simply the arts of reasoning, of the conduct of life, and of fine art, they do not belong in the branch of theoretic science which we are alone considering, at all. There is no doubt that they are closely related to three corresponding arts, or practical sciences. But that which renders the word normative needful (and not purely ornamental) is precisely the rather singular fact that, though these sciences do study what ought to be, i.e., ideals, they are the very most purely theoretical of purely theoretical sciences.

CP 1.281
‘Normative Science’ (pub. 04.05.15-19:35). Quote in M. Bergman & S. Paavola (Eds.), The Commens Dictionary: Peirce's Terms in His Own Words. New Edition. Retrieved from
May 04, 2015, 19:35 by Mats Bergman