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Hume’s “law” and the ideal of value‑free science

Pierluigi Barrotta

Abstract


There is wide belief that Hume’s “law” supports the ideal of value‑free science. Hume’s “law” claims that value judgments cannot logically be derived from purely factual premises. Scientific investigations are concerned with facts and in no way can scientists reach value judgments. In this paper I shall argue that Hume’s “law” cannot support the ideal of value‑free science. I pinpoint two possible uses of the “law” in defense of the ideal, neither of which is satisfactory. The first use makes the “law” prescriptively empty. The second use leads us in a vicious circle. Furthermore, I shall argue that Hume’s “law” blinds us to the reason as to why at times scientists are wrong to derive value judgments from their empirical investigations. In this sense, Hume’s “law” blocks scientific investigations.


Keywords


value‑free science; is‑ought question; Poincaré; syllogistic; enthymeme

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4454/philinq.v4i2.123

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