Write a one page paper (double spaced) describing and discussing the following ethical concepts found in chapter 1; logical, factual and normative. You may use definitions or scenarios in your writing. The goal of this paper is to gain a level of understanding of all three (logical, factual and normative).
Logical, or formal, statements
are definitions or statements derivable from
definitions, including the entirety of mathematical discourse (e.g., “2
or “A square has four equal sides”). Such statements can be
verified by a for
(“recourse to arithmetic”) derived from the same definitions
that control the rest of the terms of the field in question (i.e., the same axioms
define “2,” “4,” and the procedure of “addition”; the four equal sides and right
angles define the “square”). True formal statements are
they are true
logically, necessarily, or by the definitions of the terms
. False statements in
this category are
. (If you say, “2
5,” or start talking
about “round squares,” you contradict yourself, for you assert that which can-
not possibly be so—you conjoin ideas that are incompatible). A logically true
or logically valid statement can never be false, or disproved by any discovery
of facts; it will never be the case that some particular pairs of 2 do not add up
to 4, or some particular squares turn out to be circular—and if you think you’ve
found such a case, you’re wrong! “2
4” is true, and squares are equi-
lateral rectangles, as philosophers like to say,
in all possible worlds
. For this
reason we say that these statements are “
true a priori
”: we can know them to
be correct prior to any examination of the facts of the world, without having to
count up lots of pairs of pairs, just to make sure that 2
2 really equals 4.
Factual, or empirical, statements
are assertions about the world out there, the
physical environment of our existence, including the entirety of scientific dis-
course, from theoretical physics to sociology. Such statements are
(“recourse to measurement,” “recourse to weighing”)
of that world, by experiment or just by careful looking, listening, touching,
smelling, or tasting. This is the world of our senses, the world of space, objects,
time and causation. These empirical statements are called
“put together” in a new combination two ideas that do not initially include or
entail each other. As a result they cannot be known a priori, but can be deter
a posteriori, that is, after investigation of the world
. When they
are true, they are
true only contingently, or dependently, as opposed to nec-
their truth is contingent upon, or depends on, the situation in which
they are uttered. (As I write this, the statement “it is raining out” is true, and
has been all day. The weatherman tells me that tomorrow that statement will be
false. The statement “2 + 2 =4,” like the rectangularity of squares, does not flick in and out of truth like that).
Normative statements are assertions about what is right, what is good, or
what should be done.We know these statements as value judgments, pre-
scriptions and proscriptions, commands and exhortations to do or forbear.
There is no easy way of assigning truth value to these statements. The cri-
teria of “truth” that apply to formal and factual statements do not apply
5 to normative statements. This is why, when we disagree about them, we
become “hostile,” and “lose our temper” at each other; there is no easy way to
resolve the dispute. We can certainly say of such judgments (formally) that they
conform or fail to conform with other moral judgments, or with more general
and widely accepted moral principles. We can also say (empirically) that they
receive or fail to receive our assent as a society, as compatible or incompat-
ible with our basic intuitions of what is just or right (as determined by a poll
or survey). We may also say that a judgment succeeds or fails as a policy rec-
ommendation on some accepted pattern of moral reasoning, like adducing con-
sequences of that judgment and estimating how human wants will be affected
should it become law (see the section on Moral Reasoning, below). But the cer
tainties of math and science are forever beyond the grasp of any normative sys-
tem, which is, possibly, as it should be.
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