REASONABLENESS AS A FACT AND AS A VALUE
At the present point, I would not be surprised if many of my hearers felt inclined to say something like this: 'The moral images you described in the last lecture are splendid, wonderful, but look! Any serious philosopher will ask how we can justify any of this.'
In a book I published some years ago, 1 I defended the idea that something can be both a fact and a value--I said that it is a fact, for example, that Yeats was a great poet, and a fact that the Nazis were evil. And then too, it was the question of justification that bothered people. Very often people expressed their worry by asking: 'But don't you have to admit that there is much more agreement on scientific results than on ethical values? Doesn't that show that there is a kind of objectivity that scientific results have and that ethical values lack?'
An argument is implicit in the question. We might call it the argument from non-controversiality. The idea is that the hallmark of cognitive status is, in some way, the possibility of becoming 'public' knowledge, i.e., of becoming non-controversial.
I don't mean to suggest that anyone really thinks that only what is non-controversial is really knowledge. The idea, rather, is that 'facts' can be demonstrated 'scientifically'. If there is controversy over a factual question, that is because we have not yet performed enough experiments, or amassed enough data. What is a fact can 'in principle' be established in a way that will command the assent of all 'rational persons', where this is