In Reason, Truth and History and certain related writings, Hilary Putnam attacked the fact-value distinction. This paper criticizes his arguments and defends the distinction. Putnam claims that factual statements presuppose values, that “the empirical world depends upon our criteria of rational acceptability,” and that “we must have criteria of rational acceptability to even have an empirical world.” The present paper argues that these claims are mistaken.
Abstract Criteria of scientific value are of different kinds. This paper concerns ultimate criteria, i.e. the axiology of science. Most ultimate criteria are multi?dimensional. This gives rise to an aggregation problem, which cannot be adequately solved with reference to attitudes and behaviour within the scientific community. Therefore, in many cases, there is no fact of the matter as to whether one theory is better than another. This, in turn, creates problems for methodology.
W. V. Quine has made statements about truth which are not obviously compatible, and his statements have been interpreted in more than one way. For example, Donald Davidson claims that Quine has an epistemic theory of truth, but Quine himself often says that truth is just disquotational. This paper argues that Quine should recognize two different notions of truth. One of these is disquotational, the other is empiricist. There is nothing wrong with recognizing two different notions of truth. Both may (...) be perfectly legitimate, even though, to some extent, they may be applicable in different contexts. Roughly speaking, a sentence is true in the empiricist sense if it belongs to a theory which entails all observation sentences which would be assented to by the speakers of the language in question (and no observation sentences which would be dissented from by these speakers). Various objections to this idea are discussed and rejected. (shrink)
Abstract Contrary to what is usually taken for granted, the traditional positivistic and hermeneutic accounts of explanations of human actions do not really contradict one another. There is no logical or epistemological difference between explanations in this area and explanations in the natural sciences. However, if W. V. Quine and D. Davidson are right, there may be an ontological difference between the explanation of natural events and the interpretation of actions.
Presumably, most scientists believe that scientific knowledge is intrinsically good, i.e. good in itself, apart from consequences. This doctrine should be rejected. The arguments which are usually given for it — e.g. by philosophers like W.D. Ross, R. Brandt, and W. Frankena — are quite inconclusive. In particular, it may be doubted whether knowledge is in fact desired for its own sake, and even i f it is, this would not support the doctrine. However, the doctrine is open to counter-examples. (...) The main counter-argument is that the doctrine has implications which are morally unacceptable. (shrink)
Utilitarianism, as well as many other political and moral doctrines, presupposes that the problem of interpersonal utility comparisons can be solved. Otto Neurath gave a comparatively early (1912) and explicit statement of this problem, and he suggested that it cannot be solved. This may still be the dominant view. It is argued that recent attempts to solve the problem (by e.g. Schick, Rescher, Harsanyi, Brandt, Jeffrey, Arrow, and Hare) are unsatisfactory, but that the oldest suggestion - i.e. the method of (...) minimal units or just-noticeable differences - is acceptable from the point of view of utilitarianism. (shrink)
Moral realism is defined here as the ontological view that there are moral facts. This is compared with traditional views in moral philosophy, such as naturalism, nonnaturalism, and noncognitivism. It is argued that we have no good reasons to avoid inconsistencies among our moral views unless (we believe that) moral realism is true. Various counter-arguments to this claim are criticized. Moreover, it is argued that, since we do not want to give up the practice of moral reasoning, we have a (...) good reason to believe that moral realism is true. (shrink)