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438 UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY REALMS OF VALUE" DOUGLAS P. DRYER Professor Perry's Realms of Value is devised to remedy a serious shortcoming in contemporary thought. In all ages men have some opinions about the social order in which they live and some views as to what ways of living are better than others. Moral and political philosophy has tried of old to replace such opinions by something better. It has sought a more adequate understanding of the state, the economic order, of law, morals, rights, and institutions generally. It has especially tried to furnish a sounder basis for evaluating institutions and policies. In recent generations several specialized social sciences have emerged. They have attempted to take over the first of these tasks from traditional political philosophy and improve upon it as modem natural sciences have improved on what previously passed for natural philosophy. All the social sciences have achieved more reliable bodies of information. Some of them, especially economics, have greatly improved the concepts and laws for understanding their domains. Yet the social sciences have two serious shortcomings in contrast to traditional moral and political philosophy. They fail to provide an integrated understanding of the different aspects of human living to which each confines itself; and they provide no basis for distinguishing what institutions are justified from those which are not, or for ascertaining what laws or policies are better than others. Utilitarianism has offered the chief remedy for the latter deficiency. Most recent attempts to remedy the former have been derived from Hegel. Perry uses a common principle to deal with both. The social sciences have generally shared the widespread conviction that since values are a matter of what men happen to like or want there can be no objective basis for value judgments of any sort. Perry argues that this conviction is correct in its premise but mistaken in the conclusion it draws. Anything has a value by being an object of interest. Instead of undermining value judgments, Perry holds that this principle discloses where their basis lies. Whenever an interest is shown in fact to be taken in anything, an objective basis is provided for a value judgment. Different kinds of interests account for different kinds of values. This thesis, adumbrated by his teacher, William James, Perry developed in General Theory of Value, published in 1926. This work constitutes the most elaborate attack on the problem of values which has been made in the present century. Realms of -RĀ«alms of Value: ...t CritiquI 0/ Human Civilization. By RALPH BAIlTON PERRY. Cambridgc1 Mas.s.: Harvard University Prc" [Toronto: S. J. Reginald Saunders and Company Limited]. 1954. pp. xiv, 497. $9.75. REVIEWS 439 Value is a sequel to it. Here, in a way reminiscent of Hegel, Perry sheds light on the various domains of human living, such as art, law, religion, by means of the diverse interests they serve. By showing how different sorts of interests are related to each other, Perry is enabled to cope with the vexing questions lying on the borderland between the specialized social sciences and to develop an integrated understanding of their several domains. Like Hegel, he argues that morality , law, economic and political life are distinctive in making for an adjustment of interests. Hegel, however, anticipated the social sciences in maintaining that institutions can be understood but not evaluated: "the history of the world is the court of judgment on the world." In opposition to this view, and like the utilitarians, Perry is also concerned to develop a basis for evaluating arrangements of living. He maintains that the utilitarians were correct in defining value in terms of interest, but he rejects their hedonistic calculus because it ignores the irreducible diversity of interests. The arrangements in any domain of human living may be appraised in terms of their efficiency in promoting the distinctive interests of that domain. But an arrangement of human living must ultimately be evaluated by how well it makes for a harmonious fulfilment of all interests. Some will feel that Perry has failed to substantiate his central thesis. Yet everyone will find in him inviting discussions of law, education, history, morality, science, art, religion, government, and economic...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 438-439
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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