ethics as normative science.

THE relation between ethics and science has been a focal point in the arguments of many moral philosophers. The noncognitivists’ doctrines of the primarily emotive or prescriptive meaning of ethical terms have derived in part from the sharp contrasts they have drawn between ethics and science. Evidence for these contrasts has been found in such considerations as the difference between moral and scientific disagreements in respect of cognitive decidability. Many of the cognitivists, on the other hand, have emphasized the similarities between ethics and science. These emphases have taken two closely related forms. Some philos-ophers have tried to show that ethics is “scientific” in that ethical terms, sentences, and arguments, like scientific ones, are respectively descriptive, cognitive, and rational (appealing to reasons and principles). Other philosophers have tried to show that science is “ethical” in that science, like ethics, is attitudinal (exhibited in the scientific “attitude,” “respect” for the facts, and so forth), prescriptive (giving directions as to how to look at the world), evaluative (weighing evidence), purposive, pragmatic, socially structured, resting on conventions, and even “personal” in that science involves basic choices or commitments on the part of the scientist.

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