“Is,” not “should be”
In Economics, we define this clearly.
- Positive economics is concerned with the description and explanation of economic phenomena.
- Normative economics incorporates value judgments about what the economy ought to be like.
In general, “positive” can refer to anything descriptive, while “normative” refers to anything ideal.
I switch back and forth all the time on this blog, but I thought I’d bring up the distiction.
I often talk about things that are in my life, things that exist. That doesn’t necessarily mean I condone them. It’s just me describing them.
On the other side, sometimes I’ll talk about things that should be. That doesn’t necessarily mean they actually exist or even can possibly exist – just that it’s the way I think they should be (or someone else thinks they should be).
So far, I think more people have a problem confusing what is with what should be – that’s the reason for the title here. Hopefully this helps clarify.
As a recap…
- “Positive” = is
- “Normative” = should be