caro: Good morning! Agnes Koos works in the field of axiology and value theory. Her primary interest in discussing her paper at this conference is to get feedback from scholars working in the tradition of objectivism, to assist her with the development of her forthcoming book. And I'm pleased to have her here, because her work represents yet another area in which objectivism would do well to build bridges to other academics. Welcome, Agnes!
caro: Let me go ahead and send in Frank's question.
caro: Here's the question Agnes began to answer. You have more to say on this one, Agnes?

From 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.

agnes: I continue with Frank's question. The "bird's-eye" view is very flattering, it's only a more distant view to ethical problems, framed into sociological approaches. And I think very deep commitment to certain moral principles is an impediment of the sociological view.
caro: Sorry, Frank. You're right to remind me. People who are logged in as participants should open a SECOND browser window, here . I'll be sending you feedback there, organizing the discussion, etc.
agnes: In fact even Marxism has been criticized for its moral commitment to the Proletarian case - referred to as a distorting factor within Marxist sociological paradigm.
caro: From Bryan Register: 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?
agnes: Thank you for this question. RCT is a paradigm formed within economics (Hayek, von Mises), than continued by sociologists like Homans and Blau, Mancour Olson, other economists and political theorists (Nozick, Rawls). Since a decade or two, sociologists complain of an "economist imperialism", say, the economic paradigm threatens to conquer the whole sociology. In the opinion of many, the RCT perspective is diametrically opposed to that of sociology"s, while others, like Coleman or Boudon are delighted to work within it. to be continued -
agnes: A main difference between the "classic" sociology and RCT is their view about human beings. And it's the point I think Objectivism is much closer to RCT than to any other image of man.
caro: Can you draw out that distinction between classic sociology and rational choice theory a bit more? (I see Bryan is asking the same thing. There's a bit of basic common ground to be established, so we should try to do that now, I think.)
agnes: "Homo Economicus" is characterized as: individual actor, believing in the freedom of action (vs. social structure's constraint), motivated by rational calculation (vs. irrational feelings, tradition), his arena of action is the market, etc.
agnes: RCT is mainly known as a very individualist paradigm, while many other are holist/communitarian. Further, it is considered ahistorical, not taking account of the phenomenon of emergence in the social field, and the most probable political standpoint associated to it is libertarianism, a very pro-market attitude.
caro: 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?
agnes: I'm not wiser in this regard than Gunnar Myrdal, who said that evaluations were unavoidable in social research, and a first step to overcome them is to be aware of their presence, in case of the researchers, to confess them. I would add that there are disciplines where did introduce obligatory values (physicians, futurists), and this is a safer way to deal with value-ladenness, than disregarding them.
caro: From Monart Pon: A lot of the language in this chapter is unfamiliar to an intelligent lay-audience. Could you state the basic thesis in lay terms?
agnes: Sorry, I don't know whether the abstract of the paper and my short glossary are displayed together with the paper or not, thus how much explanation should I give. But the paper mainly presents and contours problems , it is less focused on formulating theses.
caro: Agnes, shall we return to the questions that Bryan had sent you, and that you were beginning to answer? If you could just fill in here what the question was, I'll send in the answer you've already written.
agnes: Well, I had a look on the other window and convinced my confusion was founded with regard to the Russian radical's author. I started comment the second part because of this confusion.
caro: Well, to avoid further confusion, I'll move on here to Bryan's new question. We can come back to his other questions later. From Bryan: ust 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?
caro: Let me try that again, since part of the questino was cut off at the beginning:

From Bryan: 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?

agnes: My basic question was, as you have already noticed, that "can we legitimately found science's competence for dealing with values" + the main problems were to state primacy relations between value, science and practice (human existence).
caro: Thank you. Now I'll move back to your answer to Bryan's earlier question.

Agnes, answering Bryan:

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.

agnes: After I've become a little bit familiar with the Objectivist ideas, I would like to add to my basic assumptions that Ayn Rand's main values - Rationality and Productiveness - are in fact an ethical-axiological formulation of what I said we need to have a scientific value theory (purpose-following/purposeful actor).
caro: From 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?
agnes: Well, different paradigms have different ways to approach values. Functionalism, for instance, prefers value inquiries - mapping which are the values people actually held - , and they would say it's social psychology's task to deal with them. Weberianism makes bold leaps between individual psychology and a social level, while mainstream Marxism, feminism, etc are committed to a social-level study of values. The evolutionary paradigm looks for the origins of values within an anthropological frame.
agnes: In my opinion, science may legitimate values, but not prescibe them.
caro: Thank you, Agnes. That clears things up a lot for me.

By the phrase, "to legitimate values," you mean "to argue for values" or "to provide support for" or to "ground in reality". Yes?

agnes: + the legitimizing force of the science is substantially weekened by the fragmentation of the social sciences.
agnes: To your last question, the answer is yes.
caro: From Tom Radcliffe: 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?
agnes: Science has legitimizing force only for certain people. And given the mentioned fragmentation, we may say that every paradigm has its legitimizing force for a certain group/camp.
caro: From 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?
agnes: You aren't alone claiming that there is no social science beyond economics, and this is exactly a claim that fits RCT (but kinds of postmodernism etc too). In my opinion social theories that aim at an objective account of the social reality may be called sciences, maybe with the restriction that they are underdeveloped or less developed. I can see big difference between legitimizing and prescibing values, it's a matter of differnce between rational persuation and applying constraint.
caro: Sorry, Agnes. I didn't realize that there was a bit of repetition; Bryan isn't being dense, he had just asked the question before you gave your answers to my question. So his question is now "which sciences LEGITIMATE" values?"
agnes: All or none - it's like human rights, we or postulate them for all, or for none. But if the question is which are the sciences that have a legitimizing force for me, personally, I ask your patience to finish my Chapter 4 and see all possible paradigms.
caro: Agnes, we're coming to the end of the session. I want to give you an opportunity to ask us questions about objectivist value theory, if it would be useful to you.

We can also schedule a follow-up session at your convenience, in case you'd rather do that later.

agnes: Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here!
caro: Would you like to ask any questions now, or shall we close?
agnes: With regard to the objectivist value theory, I formulated a few questions yesterday, addressed to Irfan. I cannot invent now better ones.
agnes: Thank you again and close the main window.
caro: The session is now at an end. The questions to which Agnes referred came in to late to ask Irfan yesterday. But they still exist. So we can take those into account later. I will announce a follow-up time if one is arranged. Thanks everyone! Please remember to close the window when you leave, and log in again for the next session.