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The Concomitance of Fact-Value, Emotion-Cognition, and Goal-Action. Paper read to annual national convention of Philosophy of Education Society, Dallas, April, 1971.

** NOTE: The plain-text version of this article, below, has been corrected by the author to remove typographical errors generated by an OCR (optical character reader). Page breaks have been indicated in [square brackets]. Footnotes originally indicated by half-sized superscripts have been entered in [square brackets].


Kenneth R. Conklin, "The Concomitance of Fact-Value, Emotion-Cognition, and Goal-Action." Paper read to annual national convention of Philosophy of Education Society, Dallas, April, 1971. Published in PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION 1971: PROCEEDINGS OF THE TWENTY-SEVENTH ANNUAL MEETING OF THE PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION SOCIETY, ed. Robert D. Heslep. Edwardsville, Ill.: Studies in Philosophy and Education, 1971, pp. 254-263.



(Third Concurrent Sessions)

Kenneth R Conklin
Emory University

The purpose of this paper is to develop the meaning and demonstrate the truth of the following two statements: (a) The emotional aspect of action at a low level of discourse concomitantly teaches a cognitive commitment to the higher level values which would justify the action; and (b) the cognitive aspect of value statements at a high level of discourse concomitantly teaches an emotional commitment to the lower level actions which would carry out the statements. These claims yield important conclusions applicable to general problem solving, teaching methods, and the relations between philosophic theory and educational practice. Each of the issues to be explored is so complex that none of them can be explored to a satisfactory depth; nevertheless, the interconnections among the issues can be examined with fruitful results.

1. Both Fact and Value Are Needed to Justify or Criticize Either One

We begin by making the customary distinction between fact and value statements. A fact statement is any declarative sentence which purports to describe the way the world actually was, is, or will be. A fact statement is either true or false; and it is always possible, at

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least in principle, to gather scientific information proving its truth or falsity. A value statement is any sentence which purports to judge the worth of something, or which purports to prescribe the way things ought to be. A value statement is neither true nor false in a scientific sense; rather, it espouses an attitude or opinion, and must ultimately be accepted or rejected on faith.

When someone asserts a fact statement, we know in a general way how to proceed: ask him to produce evidence. Even if he cannot produce evidence, he should be able to tell us how we could go about gathering evidence to prove or disprove his statement. But when someone asserts a value statement, we have no recourse to evidence. All we can do is to offer verbal criticisms, or ask him to offer verbal justifications. The logic of value justiication has been a subject of much controversy, and some progress has been made in characterizing the criteria for valid arguments in philosophy of education.[1] Without becoming enmeshed in the analysis of precise criteria, I do wish to show that there is an interlocking network of fact and value statements which must be involved in justifying a value statement.

Consider the following sequence of statements:

(a) It's good to teach hygiene in school

(b) Teaching hygiene in school helps children be healthy
(c) It's good for children to be healthy

(d) Healthy children grow into healthy adults
(e) It's good for adults to be healthy

(f) Healthy adults have a longer life than unhealthy ones,
(g) It's good to live longer

(h) Living longer is a way of being alive
(i) It's good to be alive

Notice that statements (a), (c), (e), (g), and (i) are value statements, while(b), (d), (f), and (h) are fact statements. To justify value statement (a), we rely upon fact statement (b) and value statement (c): Both are needed to make the justiication valid. Even though evidence might prove (b) true, we may still question (c), so (c) must be justiied. The pattern continues until we reach some point where we no longer choose to question the latest value statement. I shall call this process the "regress procedure": To justify a value statement, we offer a pair of statements, one fact and one value. This pair of statements logically implies the original one, which is what we mean by saying that they justify it. But the newly offered value statement is open to question, and must be justiied in the same way. Etc. Without quarreling over whether the regress procedure outlined here meets the precise criteria which somone thinks must be

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met to have a valid argument, and without worrying about the fact that other reasons may outweigh those offered in the example so as to require a conclusion opposite to that which was reached, we may observe that in a general way this procedure follows a valid pattern. The essence of the pattern is that both fact and value are needed to justify a value at every stage of generality.

Interestingly enough, there is a similar regress procedure required to justify a fact statement. Whenever a fact statement is made we may challenge it by asking, "How do you know that?" The person asserting the fact statement must then justify it by a pair of statements, one fact and one value: The new fact statement tells how the asserter knew what he had said (i.e., it provides "evidence"), and the value statement claims that the way he knew it was a good way to know that sort of thing (this value assumption, although not usually noticed, is necessary to complete the justiication). In turn, the new fact statement can be challenged just as the original one was, and the value statement can be challenged by asking for its justification. Thus, whether we are justifying a fact or a value statement, we need both types of statement in each stage of any justiication, and each of the statements at each stage of a regress procedure must itself be justified by another regress procedure.

The complexity of the regress procedure, where each new statement is justified by its own regress, and each new statement in each of these regresses is justified by another regress, etc., demonstrates that eventually the whole world of fact and value is involved in the justiication of any particular fact or value statement. Perhaps this is what the objective idealists had in mind when they asserted that the whole universe is the hinge on which every action swings.

There is another aspect of this complexity which we must also consider: The regress procedure logically requires infinitely many stages. Every time a statement is justiied by citing reasons, the reasons themselves must be justiied, and those jutiications must be justiied, etc. This is the problem of the infinite regress. If a regress actually is allowed to continue without end, then the absence of an end means that the justiication is not completed. Hence, the original statement has not been justiied. The only way to stop the regress is to make a commitment to some fact and value statements somewhere along the way, but those statements must be accepted without jusiication (since subjecting them to justiication would re-open the infinite regress). Whether the regress goes on forever, or whether it is stopped at some point by an arbitrary commitment, the result is the same: The original statement has not been justified. Thus, justification is impossible.

The fact that justiication is impossible has been made the focus for an entirely new epistemology. Karl Popper,[2] and his follower William W. Bartley III,[3] claim that the search for justiication should be

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abandoned in both scientiic and axiological concerns. To replace justiication, they propose comprehensively critical rationalism: Leave everything open to criticism. We should accept temporarily as a working hypothesis whatever seems useful and has stood the test of severe criticism, but we must never regard anything as proved or justiied since subsequent criticism might overturn it. This approach does succeed in avoiding a reliance on justification, but it does not do any better than justiicational approaches in solving the ininite regress problem. When a statement is made, a criticism (either fact or value) may be offered. But how do we know whether to accept or reject that criticism? That criticism must be regarded as a statement which is itself open to criticism (and whose bearing upon the original statement is also open to criticism). In this way we get an infinite regress of criticisms of criticisms, which is just as unsuitable for comprehensively critical rationalism as the ininite regress of justiications of justifications was unsuitable for justiicational rationalism. It might be claimed that the importance of the criticisms approaches zero after a certain point in the critical regress, but such a claim seems unlikely to be acceptable.

We have now seen that neither justiication nor criticism can succeed in proving or disproving anything, unless there is arbitrary acceptance of some fact and value commitments somewhere along the way. If this is so, then what does it mean to be rational? How is rationality possible? The relativist solution is arbitrary existential commitment on the part of the individual, and conventionalism on the part of groups. Both in the realm of fact (scientific conventionalism) and value (consensual group decision-making), truth is whatever is stipulated by mutual agreement. Scientific method, due process, linguistic and criteriological analysis become crucial. The absolutist solution to the problem of rationality is very different: Absolutists believe there is some kind of cosmic structure (God, Forms, Natural Law, etc.) which dictates valid stoppers for the regress procedure. There is some set of metaphysical fact-values whose self-authenticating truth terminates all regresses. The search for these truths and the ways of developing faith in people who might know them (while avoiding faith in people who innocently or deceptively make mistaken claims to know them) become crucial.

2. Levels of Generalization in the Specification of Educational Objectives

Upon re-examining the regress procedure, we note that it is reversible. One may either begin with a speciic low-level value statement and end by justifying it in terms of a high-level commitment, or one may begin with a high-level commitment and end by concluding

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its low-level prescriptive application to a concrete situation. The logical connection takes place through a step-by-step procedure while the generality and importance of the statements undergo a fairly uniform transition as the argument moves from one end of the regress to the other. Statements closer to the low-level prescription are more limited in scope and more directly applicable to concrete instances of practice while statements closer to the ultimate commitment are more general in the range of actions to which they apply and more open to conflicting interpretation and profound or passionate disagreement.

If we are talking about the connection between prescriptions for educational practice and commitments from a philosophical theory, the process remains the same. It is possible to distinguish various levels of generality in the connections between philosophic theory and educational practice. There is nothing rigid or absolute about these levels of discourse, and it is often difficult to tell where one level shades off and the next begins. Nevertheless, it is useful to identify these approximate levels of generality and to think of them as segments along a standardized sort of regress procedure for connecting educational practice and philosophic theory. Professor Harry S. Broudy has identified some "levels of conceptualization" in the specification of educational objectives.[4] The list that follows is my own modified version of Broudy's levels.

(8) Ultimate purpose of life
(7) Philosophical, ethical, or religious characterizations of the good life
(6) Social theory providing institutions and- arrangements for achieving the good life
(5) Life-style models for achieving the good life within the social institutions
(4) Descriptions of life-outcomes as the school's ultimate objectives. How school learnings function in the context of the cultural success routes
(3) Method of dealing with cognitive. and emotional problems. These methods may be either consciously sought objectives or concomitant by-products
(2) Desired outcomes for particular courses
(1) Desired outcomes. for particular units of instruction or lessons in a course
(0) Desired outcomes for particular episodes

Although debates over educational policy and practice seldom go higher than level (4) and debates among philosophers over value questions seldom go lower than level (5), we note that a complete philosophy of education must cover all levels. Discourse at a lower

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level tells how to carry out a policy established at a higher level while discourse at a higher level is used to justify actions or recommendations at a lower level. The unique task of the philosopher of education, which neither a philosopher nor an educational practitioner can perform well, is to take statements made at given levels and work out other statements that would support and elaborate them at higher and lower levels of discourse.

Level number three, methods of dealing with cognitive and emotional problems, at first does not seem constant with the other levels, which are concerned with objectives rather than methods. Yet, a method of teaching, or a method of problem solving, may transcend particular courses. One of the school's ultimate objectives may be to teach (or indoctrinate?) students to use certain methods of handling cognitive and emotional problems.

3. The Concomitance of Fact-Value, Emotion-Cognition, and Goal-Action

By examining the regress procedure, it is easy to see why facts alone can never provide a basis for decision-making. In order to have a justification for a statement, there must be acceptance of both a fact statement and a value statement combined in a pair at some level in the regress procedure. We also observe that the fact statements included in the regress procedure are relevant to the situation for which a decision is to be justified. Fact statements at low levels of discourse are more-or-less particularized descriptions of the situation while the fact statements at higher levels of discourse are generalizations to which the lower-level fact statements belong. Here, then, we see the solution to a sometimes perplexing question: Can the same basic value really be applied to different situations? Is a person who takes conflicting actions in different situations necessarily guilty of insincerity, shallowness, or schizophrenia? It should be clear from our latest observations that a given value can imply different (even literally opposite) presciptions for different situations. The low level fact statements and higher level generalizations which are appropriate to a situation combine with a given high-level value to direct the conclusion in a certain way; clearly, if the situation is different, then there may be a different set of facts and generalizations which would combine with the original value to yield a different conclusion. If "situation ethics" is thought of in this way, then there is no reason why an absolutist could not also, with complete consistency, believe in situation ethics.

It also follows that for a given situation, a given high-level value commitment would yield prescription implications dependent upon whatever true fact statements were chosen from the situational context.

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What this means is that a person who believes in some high-level value must, to be logical, approve of or engage in whatever actions would be justiied by that high-level value in combination with the true fact statements describing the situation. Likewise, a person who engages in or approves of certain actions in a given situation must, to be logical, believe in the value commitments which would combine with true fact statements to justify those actions. The person who acts may be unaware of the values that would justify his acions; but in the process of acting or approving an action, a person nevertheless relies upon the corresponding values, and may be said to be teaching those values concomitantly by the actions he does or approves. Likewise, the person who believes in certain values may not know what actions those values would prescribe for a situation at hand, but the espousal of the values does imply certain prescriptions for the situation, and the espouser may be said to be concomitantly or tacitly recommending those prescriptions by his espousal of the values. So it is that a parent who sets a bad example for his children is concomitantly teaching his children to believe in the "bad" values that justify the action: This is why we are concerned about setting bad examples. Also, a radical politician who berates the corruptness of a government may be concomitantly inciting the people to riot in a given situation without actually saying anything directly about that particular situation: The concomitance of the radical's prescriptions makes it difficult to prove him guilty of inciting to riot.

What we are saying here is that fact statements and value statements are concomitants of each other in the regress procedure, and that value commitments and actions are concomitants of each other in every situaion. What is directly said or done as the focus of attention carries with it concomitant doings or sayings which lie beneath the surface of immediate awareness. The notion of concomitant learnings has been explored elsewhere[5] For the present, we merely note that methods of teaching-learning (level 3), and high level philosophic, social, and educaional purposes (levels 8, 7, 6, 5, 4) are concomitants of each other. For example, the use of the lecture method might teach children to be docile in the presence of an authority-figure, which would be conducive to totalitarian social purposes. Those who participate in certain activities become subtley indoctrinated into the commitments which jusify those activities. A school's curriculum, teaching methods, administrative style, etc. teach powerful lessons to the students, although the lessons are concomitant.[6]

We may also observe that when a learning is primarily cognitive, its concomitant learnings are primarily emotional, and vice versa. Although cognitive and emotional problems can profitably be distinguished from each other for the purpose of analyzing them, psychologists and physical scientists have increasingly recognized the interaction between these types of problems. At one extreme would

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be a psychiatrist trying to help a psychotic patient. Presumably, the patient has a severe emotional disorder, and any cognitive aspect of his problem is an outgrowth of his basic emotional problem. Yet, some of the more successful techniques for treating various psychoses are essentially cognitive. Through the use of reason a person may discover that there is no basis for his emotional problem, so the problem vanishes.

At the opposite extreme would be a scientist gathering physical data. Presumably, the scientist is dealing with a cognitive problem and his emotions should not interfere with his research. Yet, studies have shown that someone actually sees things differently (even under controlled laboratory conditions) depending upon his emotional disposition at the time. The problems of selective perception and biased interpretation of evidence are well known to scientists and lawyers. Thus it appears that emotional factors influence the understanding and solving of cognitive problems.

Virtually every problem has both emotional and cognitive aspects. The very act of being interested in a cognitive problem involves us emotionally with it and stakes a certain amount of ego involvement in the solution of the problem. Likewise, we usually think about an emotional problem for at least a brief interval before striking out with an emotional response. Problems are perceived simultaneously in both an emotional and cognitive framework, and the response we make must be satisfying to both. We recognize progress toward the solution of a problem because cognitive dissonance and emotional tension are both reduced.

Any particular problem may of course be dominated to a greater or lesser degree by its cognitive or emotional aspect. Some methods of dealing with problems are more successful in the cognitive aspect, while other methods are more successful in the emotional aspect. The lecture method is ordinarily reserved for the cognitive aspect of a problem although we sometimes "lecture" misbehaving students as a way of punishing them or relieving our own tension. Catharsis is usually reserved for the emotional aspect of a problem but can be used to help someone rediscover a fact he has forgotten or retrace the logic of his thinking. Formal debating or disputation is remarkably like role playing while Socratic dialogue closely resembles non-directive psychoanalysis.

The dynamics of concomitant learning can now be understood at a somewhat deeper level. Whenever we deal with one aspect of a problem overtly (either its cognitive or emotional aspect), we are simultaneously dealing with the other aspect of the problem concomitantly. For example, the cognitive study of a problem in physics concomitantly develops our emotional attitude toward that problem or toward the whole subject of physics. Conversely, if we are dealing

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with an emotional problem of kleptomania (our own or someone else's), we are concomitantly learning some cognitive truths about kleptomania.

John Dewey's theory of problem solving is heavily committed to the belief that there is a vital connection between the cognitive and emotional aspects of a problem. In "How We Think" and "Democracy and Education," Dewey says that cognitive thinking does not begin until there is first a problematic situation producing tension. Habits may be blocked, or we may desire incompatible things, and then we must think. Thinking is successful when we are able to restore an emotionally satisfying equilibrium in the situation. Marriage counselors, psychiatrists, and labor negotiators have written extensively on the interaction between emotion and cognition. The solution of social problems also requires an interaction between emotion and cognition: According to Raup,[7] the cognitive study of social alternatives and opposing positions can reconstruct the emotional dispositions of those engaging in the study with the result that consensus (both cognitive and emotional) is achieved.

In recent years there has been a growing interest in the theory of cognitive dissonance. According to this theory, a logical inconsistency between two or more simultaneously held ideas produces an emotional response in the form of a motivation to eliminate the dissonance.[8] Gunnar Myrdal's theory that low-level valuations will be revised to conform with high-level valuations when the two are cognitively seen to conflict in action[9] is essentially parallel to (and was developed long before) Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance. As a concrete example of cognitive dissonance: Imagine that a professor is using a rigorous, cut-and-dried lecture method to recommend to his students that the lecture method is bad and should be disapproved for use in any class. The humor and cognitive dissonance we might experience in such a situation occur because what is concomitantly taught by example by the lecture is exactly opposite to what is overtly taught in the lecture.

In considering how to apply these ideas to philosophy of education, it is important to recall the levels of discourse and the regress procedure. At each stage of the regress procedure there is a pair of statements, one fact and one value, which fit together logically and are both necessary to the validity of the argument. There may be many stages in a regress procedure at each of the levels of discourse. Statements at higher levels of discourse justify those at lower levels, and statements at lower levels elaborate the applications of higher level statements to the concrete situation at hand. In conclusion: (a) The emotional aspect of action at a low level of discourse concomitantly teaches a cognitive commitment to the higher level values which would justify the action; and (b) the cognitive aspect of value

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statements at a high level of discourse concomitantly teaches an emotional commitment to the lower level actions which would carry out the statements.


[1] For example, see Bertram Bandam, The Place of Reason in Education (Columbus, Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1966) . Also, see Bandman's occasional papers in Proceedings of the Philosophy of Education Society beginning in 1960. See also Robert H. Ennis, Logic in Teaching (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1969) . The "regress procedure" to be developed in the present paper is a synthesis and extension of various logical processes developed by Joe R. Burnett in several papers presented to the Philosophy of Education Society, and by William K. Frankena in the introductory chapters of two books: Philosophy of Education (New York: Macmillan, 1965) and Three Historical Philosophies of Education (Chicago: Scott Foresman, 1965).

[2] Karl R. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (London: Hutchinson and Co., 1959) , and Popper, Conjectures and Refutations (New York: Basic Books, 1962) .

[3] William Warren Bartley III, The Retreat to Commitment (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962), Chaps. 4 and 5. See especially Bartley, "Rationality versus the Theory of Rationality," The Critical Approach to Science and Philosophy, ed. Mario Bunge (Glencoe, Ill.: The Free Press, 1964), pp. 3-31.

[4] Harry S. Broudy, "The Philosophical Foundations of Educational Objectives," Educational Theory (1970): 3-21. See also Mortimer J. Adler, "In Defense of Philosophy of Education," Philosophies of Education, Forty-first Yearbook of the National Society for the Study of Education, Part 1(Bloomington, Ill.: Public School Publishing Co., 1942), Chap. 5, especially pp.235-248.

[5] David W. Ecker, " 'Concomitant Learning' in Tomorrow's Schools," Studies in Philosophy and Education I (1961) : 190-202.

[6] Kenneth R. Conklin, "The Aesthetic Dimension of Education in the Abstract Disciplines," Journal of Aesthetic Education IV (1970): especially 32-36.

[7] R. Bruce Raup et. al., The Improvement of Practical Intelligence (New York: Harper and Bros.,1950).

[8] Leon Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1957). Festinger, Conflict, Decision, and Dissonance (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1964). See also Shel Feldman, Cognitive Consistency: Motivational Antecedents and Behavioral Consequents (New York: Academic Press, 1966).

[9] Gunnar Myrdal, An American Dilemma (New York: Harper and Bros.,1944).

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