Aggression, especially in its extreme form of violence, seems increasingly to threaten the safety of people. In the twentieth century, we have repeatedly been taken by surprise to find ourselves engaged in a succession of historys most violent wars of worldwide scope. We are jittery lest another outburst of aggression reach the level of intensity that will release an atomic violence to destroy life. In addition to this, we are appalled to find aggression reaching the level of destructive violence within national borders, even at the levels of population that have been presumed to be the most civilized and cultured—the university and the religious institutions.
What is the function of religion and moral behavior in this situation? What is the underlying teaching of theology and ethics? What can or will religious institutions do?
Studies of aggression and violence are represented by a rapidly growing literature, which I shall make no attempt to review, since others have done so very well.¹
Americans are indeed a violent people. Our homicide rate is eight times that of England and four times that of Japan, Australia, and Canada. A third of all Americans, fearful of mugging and sexual assault, are afraid to walk alone at night in their own neighborhoods. Rioting, burning, and looting haunt our major urban centers; and, as the tensions mount, Americans buy more guns. In 1967 firearms caused approximately 21,500 deaths (nearly three every hour)—7,700 murders, 11,000 suicides and 2,800 accidental deaths. In addition there were 55,000 cases of aggravated assault by gun and 71,000 cases of armed robbery by gun. There were more than 100,000 nonfatal injuries caused by firearms in 1966, and in 1967 some 4,585,000 firearms were sold in the United States.
Our children are fed violence continually by the mass media. One study shows that the average American child from three to sixteen years old spends more hours watching television than in attending school. According to another study, seventy American films showed twice as much violence as thirty films from other countries. Thus images of violence brainwash the most impressionable members of our society.
For six hundred years the citizens of ancient Rome watched circuses in which men killed each other. Hundreds of thousands of gladiators perished in municipal arenas to the delight of the public. Today we get vicarious thrills out of seeing actors die violent deaths nightly on TV in our living rooms, and this represents progress over the intervening two millennia. …
¹ See, for example, M. F. Gilula and D. N. Daniels, Violence and Mans Struggle to Adapt, Science, April 25, 1969, pp. 396-405; and K. E. Moyer, Internal Impulses to Aggression, Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences 31 (1969):104-14. Some books on the subject of this paper are: John Paul Scott, Aggression, Scientists Library (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1958): J. D. Carthy and F. J. Ebling, The Natural History of Aggression (New York: Academic Press, 1964); and Konrad Lorenz, On Aggression (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1966).
Hudson Hoagland is president emeritus, the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, Shrewsbury, Mass.
In our search for appropriate ways to define the main features of a historical epoch we often use the big, broadside label. Thus, the eighteenth century is called the Age of Reason, the early nineteenth century the Age of Romanticism, and the late nineteenth century the Age of Materialism. Continuing this imagery into the twentieth century, we can, with some plausibility, characterize more recent times in terms of thirty-year periods. The period from 1900 to 1930 could be called, for the United States at any rate, the Age of Optimism, reflecting such self-confident national slogans as manifest destiny and make the world safe for democracy. It was a time in which, despite the temporary inconvenience of war, depression, or race riots, change always seemed to be for the best. In contrast, the period from 1930 to 1960 has been called the Age of Anxiety. Owing to the Great Depression, the rise of fascism, World War II, the collapse of the colonial powers, and the uneasy tension between the Communist and non-Communist worlds, national self-confidence was replaced with increasing self-doubt. Social change seemed now to be sometimes out of control, and frequently for the worse. Although traces of hope remained attached to such worldwide efforts of reconstruction as the United Nations, the newly emerging nations, and aid to underdeveloped countries, the national mood was one of uncertainty and personal anxiety. …
John P. Spiegel, M.D., is director of the Lemberg Center for the Study of Violence at Brandeis University.
The Moral Equivalent for Aggression by Everett R. Clinchy
Borrowing from William James the suggestion that there are moral equivalents for war, our inquiry in this paper will raise questions about possible moral expressions of mans aggressive impulses, as a substitute for immoral, destructive extensions of the energy, power, and drive of our lives.
Aggression in its popular meaning is an offensive invasion into the territory and rights of others in a spirit of hostility—a militant and destructive intrusion. The word aggression, however, derives from the Latin aggredi (ad gradi), meaning to step ahead, to go forward. There is the phrase gradus ad Parnassus—step to Heaven. In this sense, creative thrusts, thoughts, and acts in our very best moments are moral aggressions; individual innovations and socially beneficial inventions can be moral steps forward, progressive aggressions for growth. My thesis is that parallel to these two meanings of the word aggression there are in fact dual forms of aggressive behavior: bad and good, destructive and constructive. There stirs in each of us a necessary disposition to express our emotional drives to grow, to go forward, to create, to get power, to be enterprising, to gain, to be victorious, to compete, to win, to attack problems, and to live. One kind of expression of this urge thrusts crudely toward the abusively exploitive, the immoral and the violent, using means which are destructive. The other kind of expression steps imaginatively and creatively toward the moral and ethical, using means which are constructive. Both kinds of aggression are part of nature. Like the Chinese yin and yang, sunlight and shadow, night and day, masculine and feminine, love and hate, good and evil, joy and sorrow, life and death, so desirable and undesirable aggressions are components of reality for all of us. Nature is replete with both.
Let us look at the paradox psychologically, politically, militarily, legally, and religiously. …
Everett R. Clinchy is president of the Institute on Man and Science.
Commentary on Human Values and Natural Science
Commentary on Human Values and Natural Science by Ralph Wendell Burhoe
Considerable reaction has come to the editor in response to the Zygon issue of March 1969 (vol. 4, no. 1) in which were presented six papers from the Conference on Human Values and Natural Science held in the spring of 1969 at New York State University College of Arts and Science at Geneseo, plus a seventh paper on Values via Science presented by Zygons editor at the December 1968 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Dallas. Nine of these responses and counter-responses are presented on the following pages of this issue because of the obvious interest in and difference of opinion over those papers on human values and natural science which were challenging a reigning dogma of the philosophical and academic world since the eighteenth century concerning the relation of facts and values. …
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.
Facts and Values and Sciences of Value by Joseph Margolis
The perennial concern of value theory lies with the conceptual connection between facts and values. Sometimes, the question is raised whether ought can be derived from is; sometimes, whether science is competent to specify the proper values of human nature; sometimes, whether some particular science—evolutionary biology, for instance—is competent to specify certain fundamental or essential or inherent or unavoidable values proper to human nature. As it happens, the detailed questions are quite negligible unless a satisfactory answer may be given about the general relationship between facts and values. Often, this is not fully appreciated, and specialists plunge directly into announcing that certain preferred values (that is, values preferred on some independent ideological grounds) just happen to be vindicated by a scientific scrutiny of the conditions of survival of the human species. Kirtley F. Mather, for example, is quite comfortable in declaring: The history of the hominoid taxon, especially during the last quarter-million years, has been marked by increasingly efficient organization of individuals in societal groups on an amicable basis and by progressive expansion of the territories within which amity is sovereign. Families have banded together into clans, clans have united to form tribes, and tribes have joined together to create nations.¹ He finds that our choices lie between imitating the social insects—an experiment already tried and found wanting; social insects have existed on a dead level for at least ten million years,² though he admits their survival capacity is nothing short of stunning—and pursuing a program that allows greater freedom for individuals to respond in their more unique and differing ways to a looser, more abstract, or more generalized definition of the overall societal needs to which individuals are committed by their social training,³ which may lead to the attainment of a truly human civilization (the norms for specifying which he never provides).⁴ Similarly, Stephen C. Pepper, pursuing his well-known theory, declares: As I read the evidence for an empirical theory of value, there are two opposite dynamic poles for the generation of value—the maximization of individual satisfactions through prudence and intelligent social cooperation, and the continuous necessity of biological adaptation, whatever it may cost in the sacrifice of satisfactions in periods of emergency.⁵ But Pepper never says how the norms associated with either of these two poles are supported on empirical grounds or how conflicts between them may be normatively resolved on empirical grounds.⁶ The puzzle, in fact, runs through the accounts of all those who are sanguine about the prospects of a science of values. I am not interested in disqualifying such a science out of hand, and I think it would be merely quarrelsome to run through a large sample of supportive views in order to show that the fundamental issues remain unresolved.⁷ I can perhaps more usefully attempt to formulate the considerations on which and on which alone the matter of a science of values may be decided. …
¹ Kirtley F. Mather, The Emergence of Values in Geologic Life Development, Zygon 4 (1969): 22.
² Ibid., p. 23.
³ Ibid., p. 22.
⁴ Ibid., p. 23.
⁵ Stephen C. Pepper, Survival Values, Zygon 4 (1969): 11.
⁶ See Joseph Margolis, Professor Pepper on Value Theory, Ethics 69 (1959):134-39.
⁷ I have aired this somewhat more fully in Psychotherapy and Morality (New York: Random House, 1966).
Joseph Margolis is professor of philosophy, Temple University.
On a Descriptive Theory of Value: A Reply to Professor Margolis by Stephen C. Pepper
Professor Margolis in his article Facts and Values and Sciences of Value pays me the compliment of naming me as a typical exponent of a descriptive theory of value and of quoting a brief summary of my view. I suppose my view would be classified as an example of a cognitive naturalistic theory of value. I hold that values can be adequately described as a particular type of facts and occurrences in nature by means of descriptive statements and hypotheses open to direct or indirect confirmation or disconfirmation by the facts referred to. There is no need of supernatural or nonnatural entities to explain or support them, no need of special modes of intuition or a priori cognition to become apprised of them, no need of a special nonfactual category to refer to them, no need of a special logic of values distinct from the logical methods worked out in the natural and social sciences. In this sense a science of values is possible and is already being developed in a scattered way in psychology, sociology, anthropology, and economics, as well as in philosophy. What is mostly lacking just now is a systematic theory to bring these results into relation with one another. …
Stephen C. Pepper is professor of philosophy, University of California, Berkeley.
Is a Science of Values Impossible? by Kirtley F. Mather
The article to which Professor Margolis refers in the opening paragraphs of his essay entitled Facts and Values and Sciences of Value dealt with The Emergence of Values in Geologic Life Development.¹ In it I tried to set forth a synthesis of certain factual data in the geologic record and to specify some of the inferences concerning mans cultural evolution that seem to me to be valid. It was in no sense an analysis or critique of a science of values. Even so, it contained statements of a kind that should be considered by anyone attempting to make such an analysis or critique. …
¹ Zygon 4 (1969):12-23.
Kirtley F. Mather is professor emeritus of geology, Harvard University.
In response to the articles in Zygon (March 1969), I would first of all like to make three general observations:
1. No one has ever denied that evaluating is a fact of human existence, and that factual disciplines can discover what mans evaluations have been, what they are, and even what they probably will be. What has been denied is that from a mere description of mans evaluations, one set of evaluations may be selected over another. Unless every evaluation of man is considered to be equally acceptable (in which case one has, in effect, abandoned evaluation), some means of selection is called for. The question is whether a strictly factual survey of mans evaluations provides for the selection of this means.
… Having made these observations, I should now like to raise several questions about values, after which I shall return to a discussion of the problem of deriving norms from facts, giving particular attention to the problem as it relates to ethics. …
George B. Wall is associate professor of philosophy at Lamar State College, Beaumont, Texas.
The Relationship of Beliefs and Values by Edward Walter
Professor Wall calls upon the specter of Hume to bring to submission the philosophical heretics who suggested that the wall between fact and value, science and ethics, is a gossamer. Having read Professor Walls paper, I remain convinced that there is no mistake in the general view expressed by the papers contained in the March 1969 issue of Zygon. Nevertheless, Professor Walls paper is useful as a means of focusing on the reasons for the fact-value dichotomy. I would like to examine and then present my reasons for rejecting them. …
Edward Walter is assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri at Kansas City.
On the Impotence of Unnatural Values by May Leavenworth
I must commend Professor Walls paper (pp. 268-73 above) for his valiant attempt to keep alive the specter of Hume. He writes: Humes point about the distinction between the is and the ought is essentially a point about deductive logic—the conclusion of a valid argument may not contain terms which are not at least implicit in the premises. I do not see how Humes conception of valid deductive reasoning can be faulted (p. 268). Frankly, I do not see how this conception of valid deductive reasoning can be faulted either. But since I am not trying to get terms in the conclusion of a deductive argument that were not at least implicit in the premises, my arguments cannot be faulted either by raising this specter. …
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.
I have been asked to comment on that issue of Zygon (March 1969) devoted to showing that fact and value involve one another. I fully agree with the general import of the discussion. Under certain conditions facts are values and values are facts. But certain features of the problem I see somewhat differently from the way some of the participants in the discussion do. In the letter asking me to participate, the problem is stated in the form of two questions: Can values be derived from facts? Can science reveal and clarify human values?
The first of these two questions suggests an order of priority which I would reverse. First of all, values are not derived from facts, but facts are derived from values. Only after facts have been thus derived can they be resolved again into values. …
Henry Nelson Wieman is professor emeritus of Christian theology. University of Chicago.
I find it both useful and factual to regard needs as a third dimension of moral life in addition to obligations (responsibilities) and values (goods). A theory that gives adequate recognition to human needs demonstrates the continuity between the actual and the desirable, and shows how artificial it is to make a sharp distinction between the realm of values and the realm of facts. …
Herbert W. Schneider is professor emeritus of philosophy, Columbia University.
A Possible Integration of Science and Philosophy by Roy Wood Sellars
It has been suggested that I make some comments on the very interesting discussion of the relation of facts and value in the March 1969 number of Zygon. I do so in the following remarks, which indicate my own perspectives. …
Roy Wood Sellars is professor emeritus of philosophy, University of Michigan.