Abstract

Value particularism seems to involve three components: the holistic nature of value; the shapelessness of value with respect to nature; the non-existence of codifiable axiological principles. The plausibility of these components, and the relations between them, depend crucially on the what the central terms mean, and particularists do not always make it clear what they mean by them.  I offer plausible explications of holism and shapelessness, and show that, on this understandings of the terms, there is an interesting connection between them.  I illustrate this by constructing a model of a radically holistic value structure, and show that it brings extreme value shapelessness in its wake.  It is harder to pin down what the intended notion of codifiability in this context is.  But my little model of radical holism is governed by axiological principles that are clearly codifiable on any plausible understanding of that notion.  So holism and shapelessness are clearly compatible with codifiability.  Of course, compatibility does not establish the codifiability of the actual structure of value, which may turn out to be much more complicated and messy than it is in my little model.  To settle this one way or the other we would need both a precise and acceptable notion of codifiability and a much clearer idea of the actual structure of value.  I make a suggestion as to what particularists are really trying to get at with the third component.  On this suggestion the issue of codifiability could resolved in principle, but it turns out to be extraordinarily difficult to resolve it in fact.


Graham Oddie (PhD, London, 1979) began studying philosophy at the University of Otago (New Zealand). While Oddie was an undergraduate at Otago, Sir Karl Popper came for a year as a Visiting Professor. The Otago faculty were all instructed by the Chair to discuss Popper's ideas in the weekly colloquium. When it came to his turn, Pavel Tichý proved that Popper's theory of truthlikeness had the following devastating consequence: that no false proposition could be closer to the truth than any other. This was a disaster for Popper's account of scientific progress but for Oddie it came as a pleasant revelation: that in philosophy you could actually prove interesting stuff. This made a life in philosophy seem attractive. Not long after that, he began working with Tichý on a new idea for truthlikeness, and wrote a PhD on the topic at the London School of Economics, which morphed into the first book-length treatment of the topic: Likeness to Truth (Reidel, 1986). Oddie returned to Otago as a Lecturer, moving a few years later to be Professor and Chair of Philosophy at Massey University, and thence to CU Boulder in 1994. He served as Chair of the Philosophy Department for several years, and then as Associate Dean for Humanities and the Arts for several more. These days he is happy being a full-time philosopher again.

Areas of Interest: Metaphysics, Value Theory, Metaethics, Formal epistemology, Philosophical Logic, Aesthetics.

Source: Graham Oddie | Philosophy | University of Colorado Boulder