Standard Article

Evaluative vs. Deontic Concepts

  1. Christine Tappolet

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee118

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Tappolet, C. 2013. Evaluative vs. Deontic Concepts. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


Ethical thought is articulated around normative concepts (see normativity). Standard examples of normative concepts are good, reason, right, ought, and obligatory. Theorists often treat the normative as an undifferentiated domain. Even so, it is common to distinguish between two kinds of normative concepts: evaluative or axiological concepts (from the Latin valores or the Greek axios, both meaning that which has worth), such as good, and deontic concepts (from the Greek deon, meaning that which is binding), such as ought. The basic idea behind the distinction, which is a generalization of the traditional opposition between value and duty, is that there is a difference between terms that are used to assess the worth of things and to express states such as approval or disapproval, on the one hand, and terms that are used to tell us what to do and not to do, on the other.


  • ethics;
  • philosophy