Front Page Titles (by Subject) Politics and Objective Values - Literature of Liberty, April/June 1978, vol. 1, No. 2
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Politics and Objective Values - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, April/June 1978, vol. 1, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Politics and Objective Values
“Values and Political Theory: A Modest Defense of a Qualified Cognitivism.” The Journal of Politics 39 (1977): 877–903.
Are value judgments merely subjective expressions of the attitudes of particular speakers rather than reflections of the intrinsic goodness or badness of a thing or action?
This moral position, known as value noncognitivism, does not represent an adequate account of the value judgments we ordinarily make about political life. The consequences of accepting value noncognitivism would bring into conflict and render impossible the twofold task of political theory: (1) to offer an objective account of politics, and (2) to address the moral issues involved in politics.
A qualified value cognitivism seems preferable. It would ground moral judgments upon a conception of what it means to be a person, or a “model of man”; would provide a link between normative and empirical theory; and would reconcile the two distinct tasks of politics.
Value noncognitivism fails because it focuses only on the performative use of normative terms such as “promise” or “good” while ignoring their primary meaning.
By concentrating on what a speaker is doing (the prescriptive aspect) this approach is deaf to what he is saying. Noncognitivism fails to distinguish between how a moral judgment functions (to persuade, to commend, etc.) and what those terms mean: a distinction between use and meaning.
A cognitive approach to values can remedy the defects of value noncognitivism. An analysis of the term “good” demonstrates that its ascription to anything is neither subjective nor arbitrary. The criteria of what constitutes the human good, or what contributes to our well-being, are likewise nonarbitrary, because they emanate from a conception of human nature rather than from the subjective preferences of any group of people. Human good is not a statistical compilation of what people actually desire, nor does it express the attitudes of a particular speaker to a certain course of action. Good is an evaluation of what actually contributes to the “functioning well” or “flourishing” of a person (of an agent capable of intentional action). “To make a value judgment is, then, to make an assertion whose truth value can be determined only in relation to the model of man within which the statement is made....”
We can avoid pushing emotivism and subjectivism one step back to the question of what is the proper model of man. Research programs, in the social sciences, when examined are “models of man” which serve as “bridges” between normative and empirical theory. Hence, they can be falsified, or at least discarded in favor of explanations that include more of the relevant data.
To arrive at objective values, it is necessary to refute value noncognitivism and to attempt to ground values, or the human good, on something other than subjective whims.