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Keywords:

  • Dewey;
  • ethics;
  • Harman;
  • inquiry;
  • pragmatism;
  • science;
  • Thoreau

Abstract: In 1929, John Dewey said that “the problem of restoring integration and cooperation between man's beliefs about the world in which he lives and his beliefs about the values and purposes that should direct his conduct is the deepest problem of human life.” Using this as its theme, this article begins with an examination of Gilbert Harman's reasons for denying the existence of moral facts. It then presents an alternative account of the relationship between science and ethics, making use of the writings of Dewey and Henry David Thoreau. For both Dewey and Thoreau, the dichotomy between a scientific approach to the world and an ethical approach to the world is a false one. The article explores the reasons for believing that the dichotomy is a false one, agreeing with Thoreau that there “is no exclusively moral law—there is no exclusively physical law.”