agnes: Good morning, I'm here and I've brought my answers to Bryan Register. I tried the other browser window, but there is no possibility to send messages. Thus I'm sending here and you will have the opportunity to delete in the remaining minutes, if that was the case. Thank you for your comments highlighting your problems with regard to "Values and science". Still, I would like to signal that you have perfectly understood my basic question "can we legitimately found science's competence for dealing with values" and the main problem of stating primacy relations between value, science and practice (human existence). The example you used may substantiate the need to imply the third factor. Lysenko defended the environment's impact on living beings vs. genetic determinism (with an anti-elitist and anti-racist edge - silly but noble). Although his views were rejected and ridiculed, the problem still persists with regard to human beings, in the Anglo-American literature it is known as the "nature vs. nurture" debate. Morale: independently of cultures and traditions, science and (maybe to lesser extent or less directly) philosophy advance by addressing existential problems, and I dare say that the main problems of human condition are the same everywhere. Thus when meeting new philosophical standpoints - as Objectivism was for me in November - I expect to find different formulation, framing and solution of some millenary old problems, but very grateful to discover valuable new perspectives and argumentation. (I believe completely new topics - problems - may gradually be surfaced by life itself only, e.g. environmentalism, IT, globalization.) Further, I'm convinced Objectivists also know the phenomenon I call value-laden and ideological science, respectively, but currently you speak of "partisanship" with regard to it. Of course, our notions and contexts to seize the phenomenon are different. On the basis of the yesterday discussion about partisanship, I would say thus far you've only dealt with aspects of value-laden thinking and kept your optimism to eradicate it with rational criticism. (The arkhe- and ideal type of this epistemological standpoint is Francis Bacon's teaching about idola.) A perspective that may shed light on my deeper worries concerning human knowledge is currently known as Popperian vs. Darwinist evolution of ideas. The second standpoint claims that the defeat of an ideology (or ideological science) may only be expected in virtue of the defeat of the bearer social group - e.g. historical disappearing, social transformation, decisive political defeat, as in the case of knight's culture, rural traditionalism, Soviet communism. I think "pure" science is closer to the Popperian pole than ideologies (the main bearers of values in society), thus allowing science to deal with values may make smoother the Darwinian impact on them. I finish by recognizing two assumptions attributed to me: that I take for granted "the constitutive goals of practice (subsistence and progress)" and that I dream of a consequentialist value theory.
caro2: Good morning, Agnes! I just got in. Let me have you leave the system, and log back in once I've made you the speaker; right now you're just an audience member. I'll send a note here when it's all set.
frank: I'm very glad you've come to participate. Objectivist theory needs to show its downward compatibility with biology, with what biologists know about how we learn and what our drives are, and it needs to move upward and generate its own particular sociology. Now you're a sociologist who has gotten interested in Objectivist ethics. But your bird's-eye view may make you more objective than the Objectivists themselves! Tell us how you got interested in Objectivism and just how you type Objectivist ethics among the various ethical theories. Is the ethics an extreme position, or is it a blend of different, already existing theories? Regards generating our own sociology, how do you suggest we get going? We need not only to reach downward into biology--we discussed that extensively last evening--but upward into sociology. But my big question, a meta-question, is whether any system of thought can generate its own sociological explanation of itself or must remain forever partial? No invocation of Kurt Godel, please, for the issue involves ontology and epistemology as well as logic.
caro2: OK, Agnes. Please RELOAD your program, then sign in again. You're now the speaker.
caro2: Looks like you're fine, Agnes
caro2: Can you see your own words in the main window now?
caro2: That was interesting!
caro2: Reload both your windows, Agnes. I'm not seeing anything from you except your first comment, "Sorry, the main window is still blank with me".
caro2: Agnes, you should close this window at this point, and I'll send you the questions. Otherwise we may get very confused!
frank: Remind us of the URL of the other window, please, and state whether a transcript of the other window will be available. I won't be able to watch it all.
caro2: Is that what you meant, Frank? Or did you need the main window?
caro2: You have to excuse us, Agnes. It's very early in the morning here, for people like me!
bryan: Carolyn: I just got here; sorry I'm late. Is there any way we can see who else is present?
bryan: Here's a question. I've been given to understand that your paper is part of a project designed to relate O'ist ethical theory with rational choice theory. Could you say a few words about what 'rational choice theory' is, and what the relationships might be?
frank: Do you mean that sociologists find it hard to make moral committments of their own? If they are honest, they uphold norms of scientific inquiry. But you may also mean that sociologists are so self-aware and self-reflexive that they can't make committments with a straight face. This is, I think, a problem for all of society, that we all giggle.
frank: We have to go now. Please ask Agnes for her e-mail address, so that I can follow up the discussion with her. Thanks for getting up so early, Carolyn, one of the *dis*advantages of living in La Jolla!
caro2: Frank, try to keep in mind that English is not Agnes's first language--I think she'll have trouble with the idioms and subtle references. Can you rephrase your question?
bryan: A Not Ready For Primetime Remark: Apparently English isn't my first language, either. I'd never heard before that giggling is a social problem. Will the next great statist crusade be a 'War on Giggling'? 8^)
frank: Nno time to rephrase, but I used mostly long Latin and Greek based words. Brian, rational choice theory comes in many flavors, ranging from the trivial to the absurd, with sense in the middle. Coleman's _Foundations of Social Theory_ (1000 pages) is an example of sense.
caro2: :-)
chris: Agnes, nice to see you here! I, myself have often thought in terms of developing a Randian sociology of sorts. In my AYN RAND: THE RUSSIAN RADICAL, I devote part three of the book to developing a schema, a tri-level model of Rand's critique of power relations in contemporary society. It is a kind of sociological model that relates the phenomenon of power to psycho-epistemological and ethical practices, cultural (linguistic, ideological, pedagogical, aesthetic) practices, and what I call structural practices (that is, economic and political structures and processes). The interesting thing here is that in developing a systems-wide discussion, Rand never drops consideration of morality. In other words, like Marx, I think Rand does work with a moral commitment of sorts as a means of evaluating the justice or injustice of the system. Are you saying that we should discourage moral commitments in pursuing a sociological project, or can you imagine a way in which sociological and value-perspective might be integrated?
bryan: Could you specify just what that difference is?
chris: That's interesting that you'd consider Hayek and Mises as part of rational choice theory -- I think they do offer something to the rational choice perspective, but I don't usually see them coupled with the rational choicers. I would have thought that such economists as James Buchanan and the Virginia School would have been closer to that paradigm than the Austrians. Have you looked at the work of Buchanan at all?
bryan: inserrt: (that is, the difference between RCT/O'ism's view of human nature, and sociology's) in the obvious place, Carolyn, please. Thanks.
caro2: Are the windows reloading to SLOWLY today?
bryan: No, I'm just thinking too slowly.
caro2: (This is awesome!)
monart: Agnus, I've read your paper with some difficulty because of the language. I could glean some meaning from it sentence by sentence, but it was hard to integrate that into a whole. If the language you've used is an insider's lingo, and not because of the advanced level of abstraction requiring an advanced vocabulary--would you please state your paper's thesis in terms that an intelligent layman are familiar or acquainted with? Thank you.
bryan: What, that I'm thinking too slowly? Yeah, that's great.
caro2: No, I mean this interaction is awesome!
bryan: You're right; this is the first time in a long time that O'ism has been any fun for me at all. Three cheers for whoever came up with this great idea!
bryan: Actually, I'm wondering something, though. Was my commentary posted anywhere? I know Agnes saw it (she said so), but did anyone else?
chris: by the way, Caro... you might tell agnes that that was from me... unless you want to be condemned for writing Russian Radical. hehehehehehe
chris: yep, the interaction is great and fun... we should do this every week! :)
bryan: For at least 15 hours!
caro2: Sorry for the rewording, Monart. You realize that English is not Agnes's mother tongue, as well as sociology/axiology not being our mother tongue?

Yes, indeed, Bryan, it was a fantastic idea! But what is so amazing is that we FINALLY are getting together with sociology-types. This opens up whole new vistas. I've been wanting to do this on Enlightenment since FOREVER!Agnes, nice to see you here!

Oh, Oops, Chris. Well, I need to look like I'm saying something smart and original, so I plagiarized YOUR statement (and your book, consequently). She surely knows, so I'll just fix that in the revised permanent edition. It will say, "At this point, A Participant asked a question."

And yes, I think this should be done a LOT.

bryan: For primetime. Agnes: It was fairly clear to me that you weren't formulating theses, but I wasn't clear on just precisely what problems you were trying to 'contour'. And others are probably even less clear Could you give a brief statement explaining just what the problem is? Perhaps just as a single question, or as a statement of some theses which appear to be in tension?
chris: Caro... a participant asked... this is a riot... maybe we should think of publishing THIS version to the site... hehehehehehehe..
chris: by the way, I see a very lengthy remark from Agnes directed toward Bryan Register at the top of the not-for-primetime site... will you put this into the main transcript?
bryan: Yeah, that avoided confusion. 8^)
caro2: Yes, that's what I was referring to when I asked if we should get back to the questions Bryan had asked her; I'm trying to get there now by way of Bryan's new question. Cross your fingers.
bryan: Could you state just what it is for science to 'deal with values'? Does it mean to prescribe them? If so, which sciences might have this task?
bryan: Carolyn: Please check your email at the end of this session. I'm going to send a couple of questions for the next session early.
monart: Carolyn, since Agnes and I have different mother tongues, and I don't have a ULT (Universal Language Translator), I'm now tongue-tied :~)
bryan: My concern is that none of these areas are *sciences*; they're all *theories*. Marxism is a theory, but economics is a science. I was wondering which sciences should have the job of prescribing values (if that's the relation between science and value that you want); I assume that we can then start surveying the preferred science for the truest theory within it, but we need to know which science(s) to look at first. What's the difference between legitimating and prescribing values?
tom: I'm interested in what Agnes has to say about past attempts by science to deal with values. I'm thinking of things like the eugenics movement, where claims were made about what it meant to be a "good" human on scientific grounds. Even modern sociobiologists and evolutionary psychologists, who are often seen as appologists for racism, sexism and the like. On this basis a lot of people, including me, are pretty sceptical of attempts to ground values in science except in any but the most general terms. When Agnes talks about legitimating values scientifically, does she mean basing them on existing sciences, or just taking a rational, empirical, questioning approach to enquiry about values?
chris: i haven't seen my question yet on James Buchanan...
bryan: That's because nobody cares what you want to know, Chris. 8^)
caro2: I'll come back to your "which science" question, Bryan.

Chris, could you dumb that question down for the rest of us? I'm afraid of getting the two of you into a name-dropping fest that will just lose everyone (e.g., me).

Monart: With increased avenues of funding about to open, Enlightenment will be able to produce a universal translator within the next twelve-month.

chris: :)
chris: Agnes, earlier you mentioned Hayek and Mises as being a part of rational choice theory. I think they do offer something to the rational choice perspective, but I don't usually see them coupled with the rational choicers. Often, what the rational choice theorists do, in economics, is to present a kind of economic perspective on politics -- viewing political actors as self-interested actors in an institutional setting. I would have thought that such economists as Nobel laureate James Buchanan and the Virginia School would have been closer to that rational choice paradigm than the Austrians, like Mises and Hayek. Have you looked at the work of Buchanan at all in this regard?
chris: is that better? :)
bryan: Obviously, since you said you didn't want prescription but rather legitimation, my question changes to 'which sciences will legitimate values', rather than which ones will prescribe them. (If you think this'll help confusion, Carolyn.)
caro2: Chris: it's a little better. I'm thinking we should give her a chance to ask US some questions, since she wants to know more about Objectivism. I'll do that next, and I'll make sure she gets to see your question.

I'm still planning on having semi-formal follow-up discussions. I'll just arrange those according to the authors' convenience.

bryan: I claimed *what*?
chris: that's cool, Caro... I agree, her Qs of us are actually more important ...
monart: Carolyn, since you're the nearest thing to a ULT, would you translate this question for me to Agnes: Science is descriptive, seeking understanding of "what is"; whereas, ethics is normative, seeking understanding of "what ought to be". One relationship I see between science and ethics, as fields of study, is that science may study what are, or have been, the ethical values accepted by a society. What is this this other role that Agnes speaks of when she states "to legitimate" values? Does she mean to find evidence to support specific ethical norms? Or does she mean to validate ethical norms for their basis in reality? In both cases, some ethical or meta-ethical criteria would be presupposed. Or, does Agnes mean something else by "to legitimate"?
tom: Note to all participants: any suggestions/complaints/etc regarding the technology we're using to do this is encouraged. Please e-mail me at to pass on specific suggestions (does the text entry box need to be bigger?)
bryan: Yes, it does. Also, it might be good to let people know that if they press the send button while there's no text in the box, the box disappears. So no accidentally pressing the send button!