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 2019-12-15


  • 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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