The Emergence of Value

Human Norms in a Natural World

By Lawrence Cahoone

Subjects: Philosophy, Psychology, Ethics, Aesthetics
Series: SUNY series in American Philosophy and Cultural Thought
Hardcover : 9781438494456, 340 pages, September 2023
Paperback : 9781438494463, 340 pages, March 2024

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

I. Approaching the Fact-Value Problem

1. Facts, Values, and Other Dichotomies

2. An Objective Relativism

3. Emergence in Nature

II. Nature and Human Judgments

4. The Feud over Purpose

5. Animal Minds, Theirs and Ours

6. Dimensions of Human Agency

7. Beyond the Naturalistic Fallacy

8. Values in Judgments

9. What Modernity Did to Values

III. Emergent Norms

10. Objective Morality

11. Truth and Logical Validity

12. Ethics of the Truly Social Animal

13. Political Rights, Political Wrongs

14. Art Works

15. The Good

Works Cited

Argues that truth, moral right, political right, and aesthetic value may be understood as arising out of a naturalist account of humanity, if naturalism is rightly conceived.


Philosophers, social scientists, and natural scientists argue over whether a natural scientific account of human being is compatible with uniquely human norms like ethics, justice, art, and the concern for truth. Many attempts at such an account have been tried and failed; others, like evolutionary psychology, have tried but stumbled. The Emergence of Value argues that a broad enough understanding of nature and human nature can incorporate human values and norms, without reducing them to inhuman processes. Lawrence Cahoone advances the position that nature includes values as well as facts, and human uniqueness is therefore compatible with nature, as it must be. To demonstrate this, we must consider multiple sciences and recent philosophical traditions and their impact on our notions of truth, morality, justice, and beauty.

Lawrence Cahoone is Professor of Philosophy at College of the Holy Cross. He is the author of The Orders of Nature; The Ends of Philosophy; and The Dilemma of Modernity: Philosophy, Culture, and Anti-Culture, all published by SUNY Press.