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Fact-Value Distinction

Most individuals claim some sort of fact-value distinction in a general, nontechnical sense in that a distinction is made between the scientific disciplines and the value disciplines such as ethics and aesthetics. This, however, does not imply holding to a fact-value distinction in the “technical” philosophical sense. The fact-value distinction is generally summarized as the distinction between what is, or descriptive claims (the realm of facts), and what ought to be, or normative/prescriptive claims (the realm of values). Even though the issue of the fact-value distinction is closely intertwined with the is-ought distinction—and often the two are conflated in discussions, arguments, or positions—they are not identical. It can be held, for example, that values are natural facts, that normative propositions are factual, or that ...

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