How can we know what is worth seeking or avoiding in life? Is there anything to know? If so, is it in some sense personal? This fresh and engaging work by noted philosopher Joel Kupperman addresses these questions as it examines the epistemology of value.
Kupperman looks first at how judgments of values manifest themselves, whether there can be evidence for them, and whether a realistic account is appropriate. Focusing on emotional states, he rejects the notion that there is one primary value, arguing instead for a pluralistic understanding of value. He contends that value is strongly contextual; the value of a particular set of experiences in one's life can depend heavily on how they fit in with or provide contrast to other elements. Kupperman argues both for a realistic account of valuesome things really do have a value about which we can have reasonable confidenceand for skepticism about how much we can actually know about value.
The study moves on to explore the relations between judgments of value, and moral or social policy decisions of how we should behave. Acknowledging strong objections to the attempt by any group to impose its vision of a good life in a pluralistic society, Kupperman nevertheless argues that proper attention to value leads to perfectionism in social policy. Emphasizing the importance of detail in ethics, he focuses on variations among cases, and examines the weight cultural values can have in the social policy of a liberal society.
Going further than previous works in determining what counts as evidence for a judgment of value, this book fills a substantial gap in the literature of ethical philosophy. Tackling difficult issues in an accessible manner, it will interest philosophers and students of ethics, epistemology, and social theory.