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people of democratic cities. These experiences may lead to a 
conscious differentiation between the man-enforced normative 
laws, based on decisions or conventions, and the natural 
regularities which are beyond his power. When this differentiation 
is clearly understood, then we can describe the position reached as 
a critical dualism, or critical conventionalism. In the development 
of Greek philosophy this dualism of facts and norms announces 
itself in terms of the opposition between nature and convention.3
In spite of the fact that this position was reached a long time 
older contemporary of Socrates, 
 still so little understood that it seems necessary to explain it in 
 he finds to exist in society when he first begins to 
 much as we can, if we find that they 
ago by the Sophist Protagoras, an 
it is
e detail. First, we must not think that critical dualism implies a 
theory of the historical origin of norms. It has nothing to do with 
the obviously untenable historical assertion that norms in the first 
place were consciously made or introduced by man, instead of 
having been found by him to be simply there (whenever he was 
first able to find anything of this kind). It therefore has nothing to 
do with the assertion that norms originate with man, and not with 
God, nor does it underrate the importance of normative laws. Least 
of all has it anything to do with the assertion that norms, since they 
are conventional, i.e. man-made, are therefore ‘merely arbitrary’. 
Critical dualism merely asserts that norms and normative laws can 
be made and changed by man, more especially by a decision or 
convention to observe them or to alter them, and that it is therefore 
man who is morally responsible for them; not perhaps for the 
norms which
ect upon them, but for the norms which he is prepared to 
tolerate once he has found out that he can do something to alter 
them. Norms are man-made in the sense that we must blame 
nobody but ourselves for them; neither nature, nor God. It is our 
business to improve them as
objectionable. This last remark implies that by describing 
norms as conventional, I do not mean that they must be arbitrary, 
or that one set of normative laws will do just as well as another. By 
saying that some systems of laws can be improved, that some laws 
may be better than others, I rather imply that we can compare the 
existing normative laws (or social institutions) with some standard 
norms which we have decided are worthy of being realized. But 
even these standards are of our making in the sense that our 
decision in favour of them is our own decision, and that we alone 
carry the responsibility for adopting them. The standards are not to 
be found in nature. Nature consists of facts and of regularities, and 
is in itself neither moral nor immoral. It is we who impose our 
standards upon nature, and who in this way introduce morals into 
the natural world4, in spite of the fact that we are part of this world. 
We are products of nature, but nature has made us together with 
s. And conversely, even if men were born in chains, 
 suffering from diseases—then we 
 power of altering the world, of foreseeing and of planning for 
the future, and of making far-reaching decisions for which we are 
morally responsible. Yet responsibility, decisions, enter the world 
of nature only with us. 
It is important for the understanding of this attitude to realize 
that these decisions can never be derived from facts (or from 
statements of facts), although they pertain to facts. The decision, 
for instance, to oppose slavery does not depend upon the fact that 
all men are born free and equal, and that no man is born in chains. 
For even if all were born free, some men might perhaps try to put 
others in chains, and they may even believe that they ought to put 
them in chain
y of us might demand the removal of these chains. Or to put 
this matter more precisely, if we consider a fact as alterable—such 
as the fact that many people are
 always adopt a number of different attitudes towards this fact: 
more especially, we can decide to make an attempt to alter it; or we 
can decide to resist any such attempt; or we can decide not to take 
action at all. 
All moral decisions pertain in this way to some fact or other, 
especially to some fact of social life, and all (alterable) facts of 
social life can give rise to many different decisions. Which shows 
that the decisions can never be derivable from these facts, or from 
a description of these facts. 
But they cannot be derived from another class of facts either; I 
mean those natural regularities which we describe with the help of 
natural laws. It is perfectly true that our decisions must be 
compatible with the natural laws (including those of human 
physiology and psychology), if they are ever to be carried into 
effect; for if they run counter to such laws, then they simply cannot 
be carried out. The decision that all should work harder and eat 
less, for example, cannot be carried out beyond a certain point for 
physiological reasons, i.e. because beyond a certain point it would 
be incompatible with certain natural laws of physiology. Similarly, 
the decision that all should work less and eat more also cannot be 
carried out beyond a certain point, for various reasons, including 
the natural laws of economics. (As we shall see below, in section 
iv of this chapter, there are natural laws in the social sciences also; 
we shall call them ‘sociological laws’.) 
Thus certain decisions may be eliminated as incapable of being 
executed, because they contradict certain natural laws (or 
‘unalterable facts’). But this does not mean, of course, that any 
decision can be logically derived from such ‘unalterable facts’. 
Rather, the situation is this. In view of any fact whatsoever, 
whether it is alterable or unalterable, we can adopt various 
decisions—such as to alter it; to protect it from those who wish to 
alter it; not to interfere, etc. But if the fact in question is 
unalterable—either because an alteration is impossible in view of 
the existing laws of nature, or because an alteration is for other 
reasons too difficult for those who wish to alter it—then any 
decision to alter it will be simply impracticable; in fact, any 
decision concerning such a fact will be pointless and without 
Critical dualism thus emphasizes the impossibility of reducing 
decisions or norms to facts; it can therefore be described as a 
dualism of facts and decisions. 
But this dualism seems to be open to attack. Decisions are 
facts, it may be said. If we decide to adopt a certain norm, then the 
making of this decision is itself a psychological or sociological 
fact, and it would be absurd to say that there is nothing in common 
between such facts and other facts. Since it cannot be doubted that 
our decisions about norms, i.e. the norms we adopt, clearly depend 
upon certain psychological facts, such as the influence of our 
upbringing, it seems to be absurd to postulate a dualism of facts 
and decisions, or to say that decisions cannot be derived from 
facts. This objection can be answered by pointing out that we can 
speak of a ‘decision’ in two different senses. We may speak of a 
certain decision which has been submitted, or considered, or 
reached, or been decided upon; or alternatively, we may speak of 
an act of deciding and call this a ‘decision’. Only in the second 
sense can we describe a decision as a fact. The situation is 
analogous with a number of other expressions. In one sense, we 
may speak of a certain resolution which has been submitted to 
some council, and in the other sense, the council’s act of taking it 
may be spoken of as the council’s resolution. Similarly, we may 
ological fact