What is Judgement?

This post was a response to the question “What is a descriptive judgement?”

I think a judgement is a prior description of how the world ought to be prior to the execution of a path-dependent state rendering the world one way or another; or a posterior description of how the world ought to have been after the execution of a path-dependent state renders the world it ought not to have been in. This all sounds weird to hard materialists, so remember I’m trying to describe how I think humans generally think, which if it theistic more often than not implicitly ascribes some kind of agency to “the world” or “Nature”. Coming back to the subject at hand, the world ending up in state it ought not to have been in the first place makes sense if you assume an evil force has conduced the world to deviate from God’s/Nature’s plan, and humanity the instrument of God’s/Nature’s will to reorient the world to how it should be, or should have been all along.

Given I’m conceiving of judgements as a type of description, in my framework your ‘descriptive judgement’ is interpreted/translated as ‘factual judgement’. So a factual judgement in this case is not only an assessment of how things are, but a check of how we expect things should have been, i.e., how they ought to be.

So just as the grass is supposed to be green, the sky blue, and men and women are supposed to get married and raise traditional nuclear families, as is conducive to God’s will, so it would be immoral for the grass to be purple, the sky yellow, and for something like “gay marriage” to become an institution, as that itself is perceived as a necessary self-contradiction. Calling out purple grass, a yellow sky or gay marriage for being wrong can be both a factual and normative judgement. Rather, one could factorize a blended style of judgement in holistic worldviews (e.g., religions) into a modernist/materialist breakdown into fact- and value-based judgements, but from within the holistic ontology/framework, that seems pointless. This is why conceptual progress to reconcile different stances on the gay marriage debate don’t work; people on either side of the issue perceive reality itself in fundamentally different ways, and this fact comes to a head in the form of the gay marriage debate.

From within a holistic ontology, even if they can’t justify to modernists how facts and values aren’t perfectly distinct from one another, for a judgement or declaration of truth to simultaneously be about facts and values is non-paradoxical. That’s because ffom a modernist perspective, the goal of figuring out what’s good stems from first figuring out what’s true. From a holistic perspective, the goal is not to figure out what’s good by figuring out what’s true, because we already know the most meaningful truths, and what’s most important in being a virtuous person is applying the Truth as we uncover its meaning in our everyday lives. And to question it is wrong. It’s not necessarily as dogmatic as just taking the Word (of God) from a holy book as prescribed. For example, my friend Darren is a Stoic who calls this Logos, and he’s a holistic atheist materialist.

So a descriptive judgement is one half of judgement, the other half of which is deontic judgement, both of which form “judgement” as a whole (read: holistic judgement=factual judgement+deontic judgement). To a holist, all judgements might be holistic judgements.


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