The Value of Theory

This volume in tribute to Elizabeth Flower is loosely organized, with scarcely a mention of Flower's work—the presumption doubtless being that the general sentiments and character of her work are best captured by such a gestaltist approach. While there is something to be said for such a loose organization, that only makes the reader grateful for the bio-bibliographical note on Professor Flower, which nicely and clearly in two pages summarizes what she has meant as a teacher and scholar. In words one suspects were largely crafted by her husband, Abraham Edel (himself the recipient of an earlier festschrift called Values, Science, and Democracy), we are told that: "Persuaded that the scientific was value-laden and the genuinely normative grounded in scientific understanding, she dealt with ethics in its relations to psychology and social science, to law and education, and to the larger social and intellectual context. Her courses in the history of ethics preserved historical insights and approaches at a time when American philosophers had largely abandoned historical perspectives." Edel's own contribution, the first in the volume, can be considered a finely rendered amplification of these points. For Edel, as for Flower, "the question is always whether appropriate choices have been made, what values persistently mislead, which can be properly entrenched." But this lifelong effort of husband and wife to narrow...

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