From the comments (at EconLog)

Daniel Klein writes:

The wise man expunges "positive v. normative" from his vocabulary. Ises and oughts are easily and naturally translated into one another, based on the purposes of the interlocutors and the discourse situation.

The words "positive" and "normative" do not mean nothing, but what they mean can always be expressed in better terms. "Normative" often means outspoken, unconventional, strident, etc. It can also mean loose, vague, and indeterminate.

Tell me "positive" or "normative" for each of the following:

(1) The minimum wage ought to be repealed.

(2) I think the minimum wage ought to be repealed.

(3) The minimum wage reduces social welfare.

(4) Wise people oppose the minimum wage.

The primary verb of (1) is an ought, while the primary verbs of (2), (3), and (4) are ises. But all four statements are really the same.

Coase used the term "affectation" for posing as "positive" and not "normative."

You will find varying points of view elsewhere in that same comments section.


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