« 'Women are Better at Looking After Children' | Main | Trump Wins, and the Left Goes Bonkers »

Friday, November 11, 2016


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I think this is valid:

1. This device fails its purpose
2. Any device that fails its purpose is a bad device
3. This is a bad device.

Premise (1) is factual. Premise (2) is definitional. I think.

Is it an evaluation of a statement to say it is purely factual?


Suppose neutron bombs are deployed and each one is a dud. Would those devices be bad devices?

In any case (2) strikes me as evaluative even if definitional.


I would say No. A statement can be factual without being true.


There is no coherent way to define a watch except teleologically, and insofar as it is defined teleologically, various facts about its functioning will imply various evaluative statements about its quality as a watch. If there is no other coherent way to speak about a watch except teleologically, then there is no reason to offer an argument for the conclusion that some statements can be both factual and evaluative. The opposite position -- that statements cannot be both -- is unsubstantiated and taken for granted, but not for any good reason that I can think of, except of course on the basis of the rejection of a teleological metaphysics.

Regarding the defective neutron bombs, yes, they would be bad devices -- that is, they would be bad as neutron bombs. Whether they are bad in a moral sense clearly depends on the manner in which they are and can be used. If they can only be used immorally, then they would be bad devices in a moral sense, but for a different reason and with respect to a different set of teleological considerations. They would be extrinsically bad, perhaps we might say.

Dear BV,

for the acnients there is no 'deriving norms from facts', there is simply normativity 'all the way down', as some might say. Thinkers like Aristotle and Aquinas do not have a gulf that must be bridged between what is normative and what is factual. There is not non-normative factual reality that must be accounted for. Consider Aquinas' convertibility thesis, whatever exists is good. Goodness and being are convertible. If goodness is defined in terms of desirability- that is what all things desire is the good- that is referring to a thing's appetite, its natural inclination or disposition to some end, then it is the fulfillment of those appetites that constistute as goodness (in this case, the proper functioning of a watch, albiet it is not a natural thing), and the unfulfillment of these capacities that is bad- for evil is merely defency for Aquinas.


You are right about A and T.

This is consistent with what I concluded: "So if the precise question is whether one can validly move from a purely factual or descriptive premise to an evaluative conclusion, then MacIntyre's example fails to show that this is possible."

Deaer BV,

I admit I read through your post rather hastily (being so excited to come across this post since I'm studying Aquinas at the moment) and so missed your conclusion. I do like your conclusion because it seems to me that if one wants to argue that 'factual things' are also normative, then arguing within the framework of the moderns- that is trying to bridge the gap- is not the right way to go. One ought to simpy deny that there is a gap and thus avoid the so called naturalistic fallacy altogether.

But if we go your route and say that some factual statements are also normative or evaluative, does this commit us to a kind of convertibility of being and goodness? Or is this merely a matterof propositions, and not reality itself?


What's a "purely" factual premise? Is this one:

1) Either 2+2 =5 or one ought not murder

If so, then:

2) 2+2=4

3) Thus, one ought not murder.

The premise is a disjunctive proposition one of the disjuncts of which is normative; hence, the premise is plainly not purely factual.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 10/2008



March 2023

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  
Blog powered by Typepad