Is-ought and all that

Anthony Appiah says something in his review of Sam Harris’s The Moral Landscape that I don’t get – it looks wrong to me, but Appiah’s a philosopher and I’m not, so help me out here. Maybe he spoke in haste, or maybe a sub changed his wording, or maybe I’m just wrong.

Harris means to deny a thought often ascribed to David Hume, according to which there is a clear conceptual distinction between facts and values. Facts are susceptible of rational investigation; values, supposedly, not. But according to Harris, values, too, can be uncovered by science…

I thought the point was that facts can’t, as a matter of logic, get you to values. That doesn’t make values not susceptible of rational investigation, surely. Does it? It makes them not straightforwardly susceptible of empirical falsification, perhaps, but there are other ways of rationally investigating things – aren’t there?

Answers on a postcard.

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