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ARDA Guiding Papers Series

fact, value, God, and reality: How Wittgenstein’s Ethics Clarifies the Fact-value Distinction and, in the Process, Perhaps Subverts a Scientific Holy War.

by Paul Froese


In his original essay “fact, value, God, and reality: How Wittgenstein’s Ethics Clarifies the Fact-value Distinction and, in the Process, Perhaps Subverts a Scientific Holy War,” Dr. Paul Froese ponders the topic of how science, in particular social science, should treat the topic of transcendent reality. He argues that contemporary tendencies to advocate atheism or, conversely, theism are misguided. Drawing from Wittgenstein’s philosophy of ethics, he concludes that social science should simply avoid fruitless theological debates by evoking a “fact-absolute value distinction.”

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Please use the following when citing this paper:

Froese, Paul. 2011. fact, value, God, and reality: How Wittgenstein’s Ethics Clarifies the Fact-value Distinction and, in the Process, Perhaps Subverts a Scientific Holy War (ARDA Guiding Paper Series). State College, PA: The Association of Religion Data Archives at The Pennsylvania State University, from http://www.thearda.com/rrh/papers/guidingpapers.asp.

Paul Froese is an associate professor of Sociology at Baylor University. His book The Plot to Kill God: Findings from the Soviet Experiment in Secularization won the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion’s distinguished book award in 2009. His recent book America’s Four Gods: What We say about God and What that says about Us details his research with Christopher Bader on the political and social effects of varying beliefs of God.