I often get the impression that when people hear me use words like postmodern, narrative, world-view, and the like they think I am basically just making this stuff up or using it in a sense that is peculiar to me. Well, the truth is that I’m simply not that original or smart. There is a large body of work out there, and I draw from those resources.
One such resource, that may interest readers of this blog, is this book by Harvard professor Hilary Putnam and this review of the book. It goes directly to many of the issues discussed recently on this blog. Basically I believe Burk and Bernard are trying to defend the “final dogma” of empiricism. Unfortunately, they have not found a way to do so that doesn’t incorporate or rely upon the very issue disputed. It is a dogma; it is held by faith. Good luck defending it.
From the book description:
“If philosophy has any business in the world, it is the clarification of our thinking and the clearing away of ideas that cloud the mind. In this book, one of the world’s preeminent philosophers takes issue with an idea that has found an all-too-prominent place in popular culture and philosophical thought: the idea that while factual claims can be rationally established or refuted, claims about value are wholly subjective, not capable of being rationally argued for or against. Although it is on occasion important and useful to distinguish between factual claims and value judgments, the distinction becomes, Hilary Putnam argues, positively harmful when identified with a dichotomy between the objective and the purely ‘subjective.’”
From the review:
“Putnam has constructed a brilliant, yet concise, exposition and argument for the failure of the fact/value dichotomy in philosophy. We are exposed to what Putnam keenly calls the “Final Dogma of Empiricism,” whereby philosophers of language and science have attempted to expunge values from the hallowed ground of scientific investigation and logic. But Putnam argues that value judgments creep into our preferences for one scientific view over another when we attempt to determine why one view is more reasonable than another. We are typically offered, as a response, the claim that views must be adjudicated on the basis of their plausibility, coherence, or simplicity. Putnam, however, argues that such “standards” of objectivity are themselves infused with value preferences.”