Colloquium: Value_laden models and value_laden design

As is well known, the logical empiricists followed Kant in distinguishing between analytic and synthetic sentences or judgments. Unlike Kant, they identified analytic with a priori sentences and the synthetic with a posteriori sentences, and maintained that the synthetic a priori was a contradiction in terms. Consequently, meaningful sentences were either analytically true or false, such as in logic and mathematics or they received a truth-value by empirical means, and all sentences outside these categories (such as metaphysical and normative claims) were considered senseless. The analysis of natural language argumentation reveals, however, much more structure than only an interplay between factual and formal statements. Its shows value assessments as part of constructions of frames. Let us use Entman’s 1993:52 characterization of them: “[t]o frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation.” Frame research can be traced in many academic disciplines such as Philosophy (Kuhn), Sociology (Goffman), Psychology (Tverski, Kahneman), Policy (Lakoff, Kuypers) Design (Schon), Argumentation (OKeefe). Considering the work done in these areas, especially argumentation theory, I want to defend the following claim:
(*) All Philosophy is Frame Research
Just as Kant’s categorical imperative, and unlike the verification criterion of meaning, the philosophy-as-frame-research thesis satisfies the Fixpoint Criterion, according to which a statement must be coherent with itself, if applicable. Following this scheme we should acknowledge that philosophical theories or claims (e.g. about functions, emotions, responsibility, technical artifacts, engineering science etc) fail to carry truth-values, but are not senseless. They are proposals about how to frame concepts and their mutual relations, and about the consequences of these proposals. Besides distinguishing between analytic and synthetic sentences, we should allow sentences to be framing statements; and if a sentence fails to belong to one of these three we should “commit it […] to the flames; for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”