From Hilary Putnam’s “The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy” (2002)

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“To force all the descriptive terms that we employ in our everyday discourse into one side or the other of the dichotomy ‘observation term or theoretical term’ is to force them into a Procrustean bed. The logical positivist fact/value dichotomy was defended on the basis of a narrowly scientistic picture of what a ‘fact’ might be, just as the Humean ancestor of that distinction was defended upon the basis of a narrow empiricist psychology of ‘ideas’ and ‘impressions.’ The realization that so much of our descriptive language is a living counterexample to both (classical empiricist and logical positivist) pictures of the realm of ‘fact’ ought to shake the confidence of anyone who supposes that there is a notion of fact that contrasts neatly and absolutely with the notion of ‘value’ supposedly invoked in talk of the nature of all ‘value judgments’… It is time we stopped equating objectivity with description. There are many sorts of statements that are not descriptions, but are under rational control, governed by particular functions and contexts. Enabling us to describe the world is one extremely important function of language, but it is not the only function.”

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From Hilary Putnam’s “The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichotomy” (2002)

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