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By David Pole

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Additional info for Conditions of Rational Inquiry. A Study in the Philosophy of Value

Example text

1 When we speak of good people or good books, of good ideas and good arguments and good railways, we can hardly mean something different every time; yet with objects so various as these -- and the list might be extended indefinitely -it would be hard to find any one describable feature that they all have in common. What makes it still clearer that the meaning of the word 'good' remains the same here, while the objects which we apply it to vary, is that we naturally ask the same questions in each case and expect the same sort of reply.

1 Further we may notice in this connexion that in setting out the facts of the case Hare tells us that we should be as factual as possible. 2 Now the issue before us concerns two alternative systems of linguistic usage; for we find that if Hare's work is to be taken as analytic the language to which his statements belong -- whose usage they reflect as analytic statements are supposed to -- differs markedly from ordinary English. To evaluate different linguistic systems, we shall need criteria; that is to say, we shall need to specify certain features -- strictly describable features -- in virtue of which we shall choose one or the other.

Nonetheless his own statements are unequivocal. We have not only his account of those decisions of principle on which evaluation of objects of all sorts is ultimately based, but his further assertion that failure to follow valid arguments does not derive, to use his own phrase, from 'logical purblindness': there is no perception or recognition of logical truths. It follows that we cannot recognize or fail to recognize the rightness of a given way of speaking in moral philosophy either. In the last resort we can only decide: Hare, too, has decided then, but what criteria he has used we are not told.

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