No. 17 (2019): Rules without Words: Inquiries into Non-Linguistic Normativities
Section 1. Conceptual Investigations

Athetic Validity

Amedeo G. Conte
Università degli Studi di Pavia
Published December 15, 2019
  • norm,
  • Normsatz,
  • deontic sentence,
  • athetic validity
How to Cite
Conte, A. G. (2019). Athetic Validity. Phenomenology and Mind, (17), 20-31.


Starting from the analysis of three conceptual paradigms formulated by Theodor Geiger, this paper elaborates the concept of the athetic validity of a norm, in contrast to the concept of thetic validity. Thetic validity is the deontic validity that is the product of a thetic act of position, of an act of thésis, such as the enactment of a norm; athetic validity is conversely the deontic validity that is not the product of a thetic act of position. The concept of athetic validity sheds a light on the distinction between subsistent norms and deontic sentences and explains how a norm can exist and be valid independently of any act of position, and even independently of any linguistic formulation of that norm in a deontic sentence. It also makes it possible to dissolve a seeming paradox implied in Geiger’s notion of declarative deontic sentences, which ascertain the athetic validity and at the same time constitute the thetic validity of a subsistent norm.


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