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The Fact/Value Dichotomy: Revisiting Putnam and Habermas

  • Sanjit Chakraborty


Under the influence of Hilary Putnam’s collapse of the fact/value dichotomy, a resurging approach that challenges the movements of American pragmatism and discourse ethics, I tease out in the first section of my paper the demand for the warranted assertibility hypothesis in Putnam’s sense that may be possible, relying on moral realism to get rid of ‘rampant Platonism’. Tracing back to ‘communicative action’ or the Habermasian way that puts forward the reciprocal understanding of discourse instigates the idea of life-world as composed of ‘culturally transmitted and linguistically organized stock of interpretative patterns’, this section looks for whether Habermas’ psychoanalysis of prolonged discussion can accord with Putnam’s thick ethical terms or not. The last section of the paper pitfalls Putnam’s stance to accepting Habermas’ ‘discourse ethics’ that centers around the context of entangling ‘rational thoughts’ to ‘communication’, but he introduces the idea of fallibilism in a rational query that also attacks the Habermasian metaphysical idea of the validity of ethical statements that goes towards the truth. My next attempt is to see whether Putnam’s objective dictum towards morality that resonates the collapse of fact/value dichotomy from a universalistic stand can successfully evade Rorty’s naive realism (structured by linguistic representation) and Habermas’ ‘sociologism about values’ (a kind of minimalist ethics depending on solidarity) respectively. This sort of claim insists on a universalizable pattern of culture-relative value. I consider that the idea of a fact/value dichotomy engages with the inextricable entanglement between the normative and descriptive content, besides the epistemic values having exclusively intertwined with the structure of factual discourse that intends towards collapsing the fact/value dichotomy, a subjective universalizability predilection.


Fact/value dichotomy Warranted assertibility Discourse ethics Communicative action Putnam Habermas Universalizability. Solidarity 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyJadavpur UniversityKolkataIndia
  2. 2.Department of Humanities and Social SciencesNational Institute of TechnologyDurgapurIndia

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