Hume’s ‘Law’ and the Ideal of Value-Free Science

  • Pierluigi Barrotta
Part of the Logic, Argumentation & Reasoning book series (LARI, volume 16)


This is a preliminary chapter, though it is necessary to understand the apparent plausibility of the ideal of value-free science. Hume’s ‘law’ tells us that value judgments cannot be derived from purely descriptive premises. Since science wants to explain or predict the way things are in the world, the way these should be falls outside its jurisdiction. Between the world of facts and the world of values, there is an insurmountable gap of logic. I will not criticize the ‘law’ from a logical point of view. Rather, I will criticize its use in defence of the ideal of value-free science. I will also show why any use of the ‘law’ in defence of the ideal would block research.


Balance of nature Bridge principle Enthymematic stratagem Is-ought problem (fact/value dichotomy, Great Division, derivation of evaluative statements from purely factual premises) Naturalistic fallacy Sociobiology Syllogistics Value-free science 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pierluigi Barrotta
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Civilizations and Forms of KnowledgeUniversity of PisaPisaItaly

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