In assessing the appropriateness of a scientific community's research effort, Solomon considers a number of "decision vectors," divided into the empirical and non-empirical. Value judgments get sorted as non-empirical vectors. By way of contrast, I introduce Anderson's discussion of the evidential role of value judgments. Like Anderson, I argue that value judgments are empirical in the relevant sense. I argue further that Solomon's decision matrix needs to be reconceptualized: the distinction should not be between the empirical vs. non-empirical, but between (...) the relevant vs. irrelevant. Whether particular value judgments are relevant or not is an empirical question, to be decided on a case-by-case basis. (shrink)
Racist beliefs express value judgments. According to an influential view, value judgments are subjective, and not amenable to rational adjudication. In contrast, we argue that the value judgments expressed in, for example, racist beliefs, are false and objectively so. Our account combines a naturalized, philosophical account of meaning inspired by Donald Davidson, with a prominent social-psychological theory of values pioneered by the social-psychologist Milton Rokeach. We use this interdisciplinary approach to show that, just as with beliefs expressing descriptive judgments, beliefs (...) expressing value judgments have empirical content, or can be inferentially linked to beliefs that do; the truth or falsity of that content can be objectively assigned; and that assignment is amenable to rational assessment. While versions of this objective view of value judgments have been defended by moral realists of various metaphysical stripes, our argument has the virtue of appealing, instead, to accounts that are as naturalistically informed as possible. And, unlike the influential subjective view of value judgments, and racist beliefs more particularly, our arguments are better able to account for instances where rational, persuasive strategies have been effective in reducing the ubiquity of racism in American culture. (shrink)
: The relationship between facts and values—in particular, naturalism and normativity—poses an ongoing challenge for feminist science studies. Some have argued that the fact/value holism of W.V. Quine's naturalized epistemology holds promise. I argue that Quinean epistemology, while appropriately naturalized, might weaken the normative force of feminist claims. I then show that Quinean epistemic themes are unnecessary for feminist science studies. The empirical nature of our work provides us with all the naturalized normativity we need.
The works of the later Wittgenstein resonate with aspects of the pragmatist tradition in American philosophy. Davidson’s work is similarly informed. We argue that because of their association with the pragmatist tradition, their work can be put to use by philosophers interested in social justice issues, including, for example, feminism, and critical race theory. Philosophers concerned with social justice continue to struggle between the extremes of an untenable foundationalism and a radical relativism. Given their holistic understanding of knowledge, meaning and (...) communication, the work of Wittgenstein and Davidson is particularly suited to dissolving the foundationalist/relativist dichotomy. We explore how this and other features of their work facilitates philosophy for social change. (shrink)
While feminist epistemologists have made important contributions to the deconstruction of the traditional representationalist model, some elements of the Cartesian legacy remain. For example, relativism continues to play a role in the underdetermination thesis used by Longino and Keller. Both argue that because scientific theories are underdetermined by evidence, theory choice must be relative to interpretive frameworks. Utilizing Davidson's philosophy of language, I offer a nonrepresentationalist alternative to suggest how relativism can be more fully avoided.