The Fact/Value Dichotomy and Its Critics

Hilary Putnam

in Stanley Cavell and the Education of Grownups

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780823234738
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823240753 | DOI:

Series: American Philosophy

The Fact/Value Dichotomy and Its Critics

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Part I, entitled “Entries in the Education of Grownups,” begins with Hilary Putnam's exploration of the persistence of the fact/value distinction, a question about which many who think themselves grown up in fact need education. Cavell's distinctive place in the story of resistance to this dichotomization is located by Putnam in Part 3 of The Claim of Reason, where Cavell is reacting, among other things, to the emotivism of C. L. Stevenson. Thus, for example, Cavell denies that what makes science rational is that it consists of beliefs about matters of fact—and hence consists of methods that rationally settle disagreements. But Putnam finds Cavell's special depth in these matters to lie not only in his sense of the entangled nature of our concepts but in the centrality of disagreement, the former point aligning him with John McDowell, the latter showing how far apart they are. Against philosophy's tendency to divide into countless specializations, Putnam seeks to show that it is when different sources are connected with one another that philosophy truly becomes the education of grownups.

Keywords: The fact/value dichotomy; The Claim of Reason; emotivism of C. L. Stevenson; disagreements; John McDowell

Chapter.  5957 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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