Imagine that the term "grrfumblezig" is a verb, defined as "to assert as a moral norm".

An example sentence using this term is: "When disciples of the philosopher Milosh Miloshkovanavich are unable to defend his later positions against the rigorous logical analysis of his rivals, they often fall back to defend his earlier positions, in which he grrfumblezig absolute rejection of all truth claims.

A second example sentence is: "I grrfumblezig skepticism in the absence of sufficient evidence."

What term could replace grrfumblezig in this sentence, to mean "to assert as a moral norm"?

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    Can you use Pontificates? Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 19:22
  • @YosefBaskin That would be a good word to use in the specific example that I gave because of its implication of derision, but I made the example more polarizing then it needed to be. I've added a second example to further clarify the word I'm trying to find. Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 19:48
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    Can you use Aver (to assert formally as a fact)? Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 20:26
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    I would take a look at the writings of a few scholarly moral philosophers, e.g. Christine Korsgaard and Alisdair McIntyre, to see what verbs they use. My guess is that there are different verbs and phrases used in different contexts, rather than a single verb that fits all examples of asserting something as a moral norm or value.
    – user227547
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 21:47

5 Answers 5


See espouse at MERRIAM WEBSTER, defined as

to express support for (a cause, belief, etc.)

to take up and support as a cause.



Is a good choice.

To make something socially or officially acceptable. (Cambridge)

The word also has religious connotations, but can be used in the secular sense, as in the above definition. The religious overtones work well with your requirement that the word should:

"... assert as a moral norm"

I would say.


Claim has definitions that carry the idea that there is a "right" or "entitlement" and that you are also invoking such right or entitlement as well as referencing it.

Websters Definition of claim transitive verb


a : to ask for especially as a right

claimed the inheritance

The driver claimed the right to a hearing.

b : to call for : require

this matter claims our attention


There are several words that come to mind, one of which has already been noted by @vickyace.

Here are some others that also suit your intended meaning:

maintain: to affirm in or as if in argument

...they often fall back to defend his earlier positions, in which he maintains the absolute rejection of all truth claims.

endorse: to approve openly, especially to express support or approval of publicly and definitely

...they often fall back to defend his earlier positions, in which he endorses the absolute rejection of all truth claims.

Alternatively, you could rephrase your sentence as follows:

...they often fall back to defend his earlier positions, in which he calls for the absolute rejection of all truth claims.


The closest verbs I can think of would be "value" or "praise" as both invoke some suggestion of morality, but neither really suggest the normative part of what you're after. All the other words I can think of ("advocate", "urge", "recommend", etc.) lose the implication of morality, much less of a moral norm. If you're trying to avoid a noun form, you might consider using an adjective such as "morally normative", and if the paper is specifically focused on morality or ethics already, you could just say "normative" and assume the full form is implied.

In philosophical writing though, it may be best to sacrifice brevity for the sake of clarity and stick with the longer version. https://books.google.com/books?id=zkU1CAAAQBAJ&lpg=PA162&ots=BLJIBoExzQ&pg=PA162#v=onepage

  • "Valorize" might be closer than "value" for the OP's purposes.
    – user888379
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 20:53

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