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What is normative reasoning?

What is normative reasoning? Dr Chris Taggart introduces this theme.
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Well, welcome back to this next segment of this week. And in this segment, what we’re going to do is jump right in to what I mentioned before, which was moral, or ethical, or normative reasoning. So I think one of the ways just clarifying what normative reasoning is, about normative issues, about moral or ethical issues, tends to be about the way things ought to be or should be as opposed to the way things, in fact, just descriptively are. So I think a good thing to do just to get us in the swing of it is you have this slide in front of you, which gives you a nice overview about what normative theory and normative reasoning is all about.
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So just to quickly read it out to give you that feel. In philosophy, normative theory aims to make moral judgments on events, focusing on preserving something they deem morally good or preventive change for the worse. Normative statements make claims about how institutions should or ought to be designed, how to value them, which things are good or bad, and which actions are right or wrong. And this can apply not only to your individual life decision-making, but importantly for us in this week, how society should go about making the social choices about what their laws and rules should be like. So that’s how this is going to fit into the big picture.
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As I mentioned earlier, economic analysis of law takes a certain approach to this, but we’ll get there in a minute.

How should society decide what their laws and rules are like? What should matter to these important social choices?

This is what normative theory helps us explore. Normative statements make claims about how institutions should or ought to be designed, how to value them, which things are good or bad, and which actions are right or wrong.

The economic analysis of law empowers you not simply to describe legal rules, principles, and doctrines but critically to evaluate them. The normative principles reflected in economic legal analysis can apply not only to decisions you make in your own life, but also to social decisions about what the law should be like and why it should be that way. It’s important to bear in mind that normative issues are contentious and the answers are not obvious – reasonable people often disagree about them.

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Jurisprudence: Introduction to the Philosophy of Law

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