Start Geo Dictionary | Overview | Topics | Groups | Categories | Bookmark this page.
geology dictionary - geography encyclopedia  
Full text search :        
   A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #   



normative theory

  Atheory which \'concerns what ought to be\'. Unlike \'positive theory\', which \'concerns what is, was, will be\', normative theory cannot be adjusted by \'an appeal to the facts\' but depends instead on the disclosure of competing value systems (Lipsey, 1966). This distinction was of some importance to economic geography, where Chisholm (1978) drew on Lipsey\'s neo-classical economics and the philosophy of positivism which underwrote it to argue that the \'greatest casualty\' of geography\'s quantitative revolution was the mistaken belief that \'positive theory would lead to normative insights\'. Hence \'to criticise normative theory because it fails to yield positive results is to tilt at windmills\' (Chisholm, 1975). On this reading it was illegitimate to attempt an empirical validation of most of classical location theory since its constructions were for the most part explicitly normative: \'The question of the best location is far more dignified than the determination of the actual one\' (Lösch, 1954). In his own Geography and economics (1966) Chisholm used neo-classical concepts to sketch the outlines of a \'positive\' economic geography, and subsequently turned to welfare economics to suggest a new \'normative\' basis for location theory (Chisholm, 1971; see also welfare geography).

However, Smith (1977) argued that the distinction had been irredeemably blurred during geography\'s relevance revolution: the critique of positivism had demolished claims for a \'value-free geography\' and it was no longer tenable to assume that an \'appeal to the facts\' was as straightforward as these views supposed. One might think that normative questions would have loomed large in post-positivist human geography, but most attention has been directed towards what Benhabib (1985) calls more generally an explanatory-diagnostic moment — particularly to the critique of modern capitalism — and there has been considerably less attention paid to an anticipatory-utopian moment: to detailed discussions of what ought to be and, indeed, could be (cf. critical theory). Even so, Smith\'s central point remains as sharp as ever, because both moments are underwritten by implicit normative claims. (DG)

References Benhabib, S. 1985: Critique, norm and utopia: a study of the foundations of critical theory. New York: Columbia University Press. Chisholm, M. 1966: Geography and economics. London: Bell. Chisholm, M. 1971: In search of a basis for location theory: micro-economics or welfare economics. Progress in Geography 3: 111-34. Chisholm, M. 1975: Human geography: evolution or revolution? London: Penguin. Chisholm, M. 1978: Theory construction in geography. South African Geographical Journal 6: 113-22. Lipsey, R.G. 1966: An introduction to positive economics. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson. Lösch, A. 1954: The economics of location. New Haven: Yale University Press. Smith, D.M. 1977: Human geography: a welfare approach. London: Edward Arnold.



Bookmark this page:



<< former term
next term >>
normal distribution


Other Terms : analytical Marxism, geography and | division of labour | habitus
Home |  Add new article  |  Your List |  Tools |  Become an Editor |  Tell a Friend |  Links |  Awards |  Testimonials |  Press |  News |  About
Copyright ©2009 GeoDZ. All rights reserved.  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us