Can Science and Reason alone lead to value judgments?

No, I have no such expectations for God; but I do have expectations that we (living humans) can through science and reason.


Please use the @ to respond to me.

Since science and reason deal with the “is,” rather than the “ought,” how can they be determine what needs to be done to eliminate evil in all its forms.

Why do you expect others to follow your guidance to work through science and reason when most people do not understand science and reason? Where’s the beef?

This is what government policy should be all about. Also R&D budgets should have this as a goal as well. Also all education as well.


You used the word should three times. Science and reason do not deal with the should which is based on value judgments.

Science and reason lead to value judgments. And value judgments change based on new science and new reasoning.


Where’s the evidence? At least an example.

Science: Develops vaccine for sexually transmitted disease (for HPV induced cervical cancer)

Reasoning: Benefits of vaccine far outweighs vaccine risks

Value Judgement by Parents and Government Health officials: Mandate free vaccinations of both boys and girls by age 11.

No, I disagree. The second step reasoning is the most important step. Reasoning is of two types: individual reasoning and collective reasoning. In my example, the parents of the 11 year old child is doing the individual reasoning. Is the vaccine safe? Does it protect my child? Does it lead to any other consequences like promiscuity? Very parent-child individual reasoning. The second part of the reasoning is what I call collective reasoning. This is where culture, ethics, laws, morals come in. Is it good for all children to get the vaccine? How about just all girls? How about both sexes. Does it harm our children? Do it lead to any unintended consequences like being promiscuous at a later age by feeling “protected”. Both reasoning’s are important. Both reasoning then lead to value judgments - law, guidelines, parental choice. These judgments are only after the reasoning stage.

They can, and they have. Not always in a good way (at least from my perspective, and I would bet from yours as well). Science gave us the atom bomb, and reason told us it should be used to end the war. Science was used to demonstrate that there were superior and inferior races, and reason used this to enforce some pretty bad laws. Science gave us pesticides, and reason told us they could be used to increase food production and profits.

I know that science and reason change, and errors such as those above can be corrected. But in order for that to happen, we need something apart from science and reason. We need a value system. We used that value system to realized that the harm of using atomic weapons far outweighed their advantages. We corrected the bad science that encouraged racism, and used values to agree that all humans have the right to dignity and freedom. We understood that pesticides are beneficial when used in the correct way, and that some are just too toxic to be ever used. All of these decision require values, and we dont all agree on which values should be used. Science cant help us there, and isnt supposed to. The idea that science is not supposed to be value free is a new one, and its as wrong as it ever was.

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Still disagree. As a parent I am looking at my child only. Does the benefits outweigh the risks? Maybe my child has a depressed innume system (advance reasoning) so I decide not to get it despite the collective reasoning the law (the judgement). My values judgement change based on my individual reasoning. I may have multiple children, I decide individually. Maybe I have a child deadly afraid of needles, there the psychological harm reasoning comes in. Can I wait a year? What’s the risks/benefits at age 12? My point is that my reasoning is constantly being updated with new information, new science, new studies. This reasoning will change my judgement. But never, never do I let beliefs enter into it because it clouds reasoning.

Yes, and I have studied the reasoning behind Truman’s decision to drop the bombs on Japan. I can say with some reasonable probability that I exist because of Truman’s decision (value judgement). My father (infantry US Army was 1000 miles away from Japan in August 1945 training up for the Allied invasion of Japan ala Normandy style. There were 200,000 GI’s ready to go in the first wave. Estimates were up to 100,000 casualties (50%) as the Japanesse fighting on its homeland would be fierce. The atomic bombs were dropped and my father marched in formation through a ravished Nagasaki eight days later. So it am grateful for Truman’s decision on dropping the bomb but not for the dna mutations my father’s genome got walking through radioactive Nakasaki and staying there for six months to help the survivors.


You said that science developed a vaccine, but you did not say why “science” developed the vaccine.

Was there funding from the government? If so there was a value judgement made, and not by science.

Was there a decision by a drug company? Another type of value decision made. Science does not exist is a vacuum, but within human value systems.

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Yup. I happen to agree with you (though a lot of folks dont). My dad was in Europe at the time, and might have also been sent to the Pacific. But the reason it made sense was (as you probably know) that the Japanese high command were convinced that the US did not have a working bomb, and if we did, they thought it was only one. The option of exploding it somewhere safe like and island was considered and rejected, because the Japanese people and army would never have been told about it.

So it was a rational decision. But was it the right decision for humanity. (other than our fathers and so many other GIs)? A good argument could and has been made that it wasnt. This is not (as your story demonstrates) a matter for objective analysis. It is a value judgement, based on conflicting ideas and different perspectives. Thank God we can reason, and also feel.

If it was funding by the government, I would hope that some Government health group used collective reasoning to recommend developing such a vaccine. After that a judgement by responsible Government officials approve that recommendation and it is then move forward at a pace only the Government can do. (slow and expensive)

Now if it was a drug company, I feel the collective reasoning with be done by a group dominated by business profitability/pipeline people. They would use reasoning to recommend what is optimum for the company (profits, reputation, mission statement, pipeline) and would recommend such. Judgement will be done at a high level based on the recommendation and other concerns at the highest levels of the company.

Yes, if your reasoning necessitate you breaking the law, then yes break the law but accept the fine and sanctions. Also work to change the law. Your have reasoning on your side. You might be in the small majority but that is how things change. Work to move the collective reasoning to your position. A few parents first then bigger group. But you need to have real facts/science to back you up. No handing waving of or saying it says it in a book written 2000 years ago. That won’t get anybody to change and even makes your reasoning faulty and cloudy.

That’s right - “In reason we trust” - should be our nation’s motto instead of “In God we trust”

I thank the first hominids for doing hard work in developing human reasoning.

Put another check mark in the ‘thank you Harry’ column. In the infantry at the close of 1944 and start of 1945, we knew the war in Europe would not last too much longer. Selfishly we hoped that the need for us Dogfaces to finish the job and to serve as occupation forces would last enough so that our particular outfits would not be sent to the invasion of Japan. That question was answered for me in January by the German who was accurate with a rifle grenade.

As an aside, I was lucky enough to become close friends with quite a few Japanese scientists and their families. Many of them expressed shame for the way their country acted in WWII. Not once did I hear any criticism of the U.S. for using the A-bombs to end the war.
Al Leo