In an age when thermonuclear bombs threaten to blast man off the face of the earth, overpopulation threatens to constrain him to standing room in starvation, and pollution endangers his health, and when an impersonal technology, a rapidly changing condition of society, and a slipping relativity of values disfigure and distort mans self-image and his sanity, the radical estrangement of the traditional two cultures of the humanist and the scientist must be overcome.
Scientists are increasingly accepting the responsibility for the practical consequences of their discoveries and realize that technology not only can work wonders for human betterment but may also, if unchecked, destroy us all. Humanists have come to realize that science is a major force in human life and not merely a theoretical exercise or a source of curious phenomena in the laboratory.
I am raising the subject of survival value in this paper because it is a source of value most commonly neglected in contemporary discussions. In the nineteenth century when the biological theory of evolution was fresh in mens minds, there was a lot of emphasis on survival value, stimulated particularly by Darwins pregnant phrase the survival of the fittest. The term fittest clearly had the form of value significance. Darwin himself led in calling attention to its bearing on human affairs in ways which I find still deserving of serious consideration.
Conceptions of value based on biological evolution later fell into neglect, partly on account of a shift of interest among philosophers to other phases of value, but mainly, I think, on account of errors of interpretation that gained currency during the subsequent decades. I shall mention a few of the principal ones. …
Stephen C. Pepper is professor of philosophy at the University of California at Berkeley.
The Emergence of Values in Geologic Life Development by Kirtley F. Mather
The concept of survival values as an all-important factor in the process of natural selection has long been prominent in the thinking of students of organic evolution. Such values are considered in relation to all kinds of life, prehuman as well as human, plant as well as animal. Like all values, when that term is used in its philosophic sense, survival values are future-oriented. They carry a connotation of an objective, a goal, even a purpose. All living creatures, whether known only from their fossilized remains or by their presence today, seem to share one common purpose: to maintain as long as possible the continuing existence of their kind of life. This is by no means the equivalent of maintaining the existence of the species to which a creature belongs. When the last of the dinosaurs became extinct, near the end of the Mesozoic era about seventy-five million years ago, a kind of life that had been maintained for more than a hundred million years by countless successive saurian species came to an end. When the three-toed horse became extinct, fairly early in the Tertiary period of the Cenozoic era about forty million years ago, the kind of life it represented was continued by its lineal descendants through successive equine species to the one-toed horse of Pleistocene and Recent times. …
Kirtley F. Mather is professor emeritus of geology at Harvard University.
Ethical Naturalism and Biocultural Evolution by Charles Fay
If our aim is to integrate or at least reexamine the relevance of natural science to human value, a nonempirical concept of human value would not seem adequate. But any effort to develop an empirical concept of value is immediately challenged in the name of Humes law which asserts an unbridgeable gulf between fact and value. The proper interpretation of Humes ethics and a reconsideration of the naturalistic fallacy are occasioning second thoughts on the part of some ethicians at present. I find myself in essential agreement with MacIntyres position that moral experience is unintelligible apart from notions such as desiring, needing, pleasure, happiness, and health—notions that transcend the dichotomies of analytic philosophers in regard to the descriptive and the normative. In MacIntyres interpretation of Hume,¹ a transition from is to ought can be made by means of the notion of wanting. This bringing to bear of human wants and urges on human values is of special interest to those naturalists in ethics who seek a foundation for ethics in the sciences of man and is one way of accomplishing the end of this conference. For the natural and behavioral sciences sometimes concern themselves with what people want, and in considering what people want these sciences also concern themselves with particular instances of what is. The frequently complex, problematic connection between actual wants and what is desirable requires a great deal of practical reflection. However, it is reason, rooted in the actual experience of need, which makes the judgment that x is good, and a concept of value which is in this sense empirical can be related to the humanities and to the sciences. In the process, such a concept further extends its basis in human experience and acquires both general perspective and immediate application to contemporary moral and social problems. …
¹ A. C. MacIntyre, Hume on Is and Ought in Hume, a Collection of Critical Essays, ed. V. C. Chappell (New York: Doubleday & Co., Anchor Book Original, 1966), pp. 240-64; ref. to pp. 257-58.
Charles Fay is associate professor of philosophy, California State College, Dominguez Hills.
In his article, The Relation of Fact and Value: A Reassessment,¹ Abraham Edel has presented the hypothesis that the tradition that sharply separates fact and value, the is and the ought, (thereby making science irrelevant to value inquiry) presupposes the conception of a self outside of, and apart from, the causally determined natural universe. He exemplifies this theory of the self by reference to the free man in Russells early essay, A Free Mans Worship, brandishing his fist at matter rolling on its relentless way.
I think that there is indeed a connection between this theory, of an evaluating self separated from the universe described and presupposed by natural science, and the sharp bifurcation of fact and value. My objective in this section of my paper will be to show this connection between what I am calling the theory of the alienated self and the fact-value bifurcation, as exemplified by the writings of both intuitionist and prescriptivist nonnaturalists. …
¹ Abraham Edel, The Relation of Fact and Value: A Reassessment, in Experience, Existence and the Good, ed. I. C. Lieb (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1961), pp. 215-29.
May Leavenworth is a doctoral candidate in philosophy at the City University of New York and a part-time lecturer at Lehman College, New York.
Psychology, Moral Philosophy, and Determinism by John OConnor
Many philosophers have argued that human freedom is necessary for morality. They have then been led to frame their accounts of human actions, decisions, behavior, and so forth, in order to allow for some degree of freedom, which they feel is necessary for men to be moral. In this paper I will argue, however, that freedom is not a necessary condition for morality; that even if determinism—in a sense incompatible with human freedom—is true and men believe that it is true, it is still perfectly possible for men to be moral.
I undertake this investigation in part for its own sake, but in part to illustrate one way in which scientific theories can be put to use in answering questions in moral philosophy, particularly in metaethics. Many philosophers would grant that anthropologists and sociologists can supply them with interesting examples of moral behavior and moral standards, and that psychologists can give intriguing accounts of moral motivation and of moral development. How this material is to be used by the philosopher, however, is less easy to be clear about.
I suggest that one of its primary roles is to assist the philosopher in his conceptual investigations by helping him to form concepts which are useful, and indeed necessary, if his investigations are to be fruitful. That is, scientific results are of interest to the philosopher not only as a stimulus to his imagination but also as playing an important role in concept formation. The consideration in this paper of the relation between freedom and morality will be used to illustrate this. …
John OConnor is assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy at Case-Western Reserve University.
The Rationality of Facts and Values by Edward Walter
Are Humes Grounds for the Fact-Value Gulf Valid Today?
The contemporary English-American view is that fact statements and value statements are separated by a logical gulf. It is argued .that value statements function in a unique way that is not reducible to the way in which fact statements function. According to this view, value judgments present a logic of their own and can be validated by the application of their own criteria.
The source of the separation of fact statements and value statements is David Humes famous logical rule which asserts that, since each type of statement belongs in a different category, the latter cannot be deduced from the former. It is important for my purpose to note that it appears at the end of the first part of the third book of A Treatise of Human Nature, for I will argue that the basis for the rule is what is said in the earlier parts of this section. I contend that Hume seriously misconceived the reasoning and the evaluative processes, and that his rule rests on these misconceptions. The contemporary philosopher no longer accepts Humes conceptions of reasoning and evaluating, yet retains the rule without offering a new justification for it. He merely presupposes that there is an essential difference between the two types of statements. I will argue that there is good reason to believe that this rule cannot be justified in light of the contemporary view of the reasoning process. I will try to show that both scientific and value problems require rational processes, and that the obstructions to rational resolutions of ethical disputes encumber scientific advances as well. …
Edward Walter is assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
The prime purpose of this paper is to show that the sciences are fast becoming the most prolific as well as the most trustworthy revealers of human values. This is a notion quite contrary to the approximately two-century-old philosophical and generally widespread conviction that values cannot be derived from facts.
So alien from the convictions of scholarly leaders of recent and contemporary Western civilization is the notion that human values may ultimately be best understood as real or true through the channels of scientific knowing that we must preface this paper with a brief note to allay the fears of those who may suppose that this declaration of values from the sciences is as silly as proposing that sailing westward from Spain would bring us to the east, or as preposterous as proposing that men could really jump over the moon. But within the scientific community such wild statements have been continually made during the past few centuries, and the traditional philosophers have continually been confounded when a few years later they learned that the incredible proposals were accomplished facts of history. …
Ralph Wendell Burhoe is professor of theology and the sciences at Meadville Theological School and Director of the Center for Advanced Study in Theology and the Sciences in Chicago.