The word norm has two main meanings.

1. The statisticians’ norm, the average

In France, the average age of / for first sexual intercourse is 16.8 years. 27% of young people are sexually active before 16. In a lifetime, the French have, on average, 16.7 partners. Only 10% will be satisfied with the same one all their lives. on average, our contemporaries perform 121 somersaults per year. « 

Source: [ en_chiffres.htm] (20-09- 2013)

2. The norm as imperative

Its description involves the injunction of an obligation, which is expressed by a rule whose content belongs to / falls within the particular institution or domain concerned, for example:

Moral and legal domain: Thou shalt not kill

Ordinary civility: Thou shalt respond when spoken to

Proper use of language: Thou shalt not say « I is », thou shalt say « I am »

Rational behavior: Thou shalt not use ambiguous statements; thy tongue shall not be forked

Road driving: Thou shalt remain in control of thy vehicle.


3. Norms in argumentation

The different theories of argumentation have very different relationships with norms; only some express them in the form of rules.

Generalized theories of argumentation

The generalized theories of argumentation, such as the theory of argumentation in language or natural logic, have no relation with norms of morality, truth or rationality. When the theory of argumentation in language speaks of norms, it is about linguistic norms, which are expressed in terms of acceptability or non-acceptability of the statements and of the sequences of statements. The rules considered are the structural forms of language.

Rhetoric as an ars bene dicendi

Argumentative rhetoric as an ars bene dicendi, defines rhetoric as form, “art of speaking well”, and as content “art of saying what is morally good”.

The speech does not have an autonomous standard, its norms are externalized as a moral of discourse, combine with a art of speaking in agreement with the rules of good taste,

Both are diffuse norms, adaptable to the tastes of the time, which would be difficult to transpose into a set of rules.

New Rhetoric

The New Rhetoric takes as a norm the quality of the audience, in particular the universal audience, S. Persuade and convince

The norm is not provided by a system of rules but by an ideal instance, the universal audience.

Classical logic

As a natural form of argumentation, classical logic uses as a norm the rules of the syllogism, S. Syllogistic paralogisms.


The Pragma-dialectics proposes a system of normative rules, S. Rules; Evaluations and evaluators.