Normatiwiteit in ? cul-de-sac: ? Reformatoriese visie op wette, norme, waardes en deugde


  • B. J. van der Walt North-West University, South Africa


This article investigates the crisis in normativity (including laws, norms, values and virtues) in especially the contemporary Western world. It includes the following four sections: (1) The introductory part provides examples from different disciplines (theology, biology, sociology, economics and the natural sciences) of the present normative crisis. It also indicates that the problems with normativity cannot really be solved without a comprehensive view of reality, including God, his laws and creation. Preliminary distinctions are furthermore made between law, principle, value and virtue. (2) The second (historical) section investigates the development of ideas about normativity during the past 2500 years of Western thought. It indicates how a subjectivist idea about normativity (what is was considered what ought to be) originated already in ancient Greek philosophy, and how it developed during the Hellenistic, Medieval, Rationalistic and Irrationalistic philosophies. Gradual secularisation resulted in the denial of the existence of God and his laws, to be replaced by (subjective) human autonomy. (3) The third main section provides from a Christian philosophical perspective a (systematic) answer to what was discovered in Western intellectual history about norms, values and virtues. According to this viewpoint, to overcome the present crisis, a clear distinction should be made, on the one hand, between laws and their human positivation and, on the other hand, the human beings subjected to these norms. Special attention is also given to the status and normative power of values and virtues. (4) The last section tackles the question whether the identified Christian principles, values and virtues may also be applicable in a contemporary multi-religious and multi-cultural context. It indicates how love towards one’s neighbour is accepted in most world religions. Values and virtues inspired by Christian love could, therefore, perhaps be appreciated also by people of other religions and cultures.



How to Cite

van der Walt, B. J. (2010). Normatiwiteit in ? cul-de-sac: ? Reformatoriese visie op wette, norme, waardes en deugde. Tydskrif Vir Christelike Wetenskap | Journal for Christian Scholarship, 46(3 - 4), 35-57. Retrieved from



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