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Normativity and NormsCritical Perspectives on Kelsenian Themes$
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Stanley L. Paulson

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780198763154

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198763154.001.0001

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Is and Ought *

Is and Ought *

(p.364) (p.365) 20 Is and Ought*
Normativity and Norms

Georg Henrik von Wright

Oxford University Press

Hans Kelsen and Max Weber have had a significant influence on social science. Both represented a spirit which can be labelled as ‘positivist’. Common to both was a passionate urge to ‘purify’ science of ingredients which they thought extraneous to an uncompromising pursuit of truth. Weber saw the threat to scientific purity in valuations and professed the ideal of a value-free science. Kelsen's vision was of a reine Rechtslehre, a legal science uninfected by teleological and moralistic argumentation. The climate of opinion which these two giants represented has changed and is much less characteristic of recent decades than it was of the mid-century when ‘logical positivism’ was dominant in philosophy and exerted a strong influence on scientific methodology. Criticism of positivism was for some time a fashion, and if the Positivismusstreit no longer appears exciting this is because it has effected a change from which no return seems possible to the positions which were then attacked. But is also a danger that some important clarity attained by the genius of men like Kelsen and Weber was obscured in the debate and will have to be regained through a new process of ‘purification’. This chapter is intended as a modest effort in this direction.

Keywords:   Hans Kelsen, Max Weber, positivism, pursuit of truth, reine Rechtslehre

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