Author: Mohammad Zahidul Islam Khan

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Philosophical dualism implies that our thoughts shaped by mind and our understanding of the physical world based on empiricism are both real yet neither can be assimilated. The idealists challenge this distinction, claiming that the physical world is inherently mental as anything empirical is an inter-subjective product of collective interpretation of the experience originating from our mind. The ‘mind-body problem’ also shapes knowledge creation claiming social science as value-laden and natural science as fact-driven. This paper critically examines the dichotomous postulation of fact and value which arguably separates social science from natural science. Tracing the origin of philosophical dualism and its many manifestations, the paper questions its utility and validity. It argues that any attempt to separate value from fact restricts the intellectual debate, rational inquiry, growth of knowledge and remains impossible to achieve particularly in the context of thick ethical concepts. Illustrating different peculiarities of meaning and how they are construed, the paper demonstrates the centrality of meaning and interpretation in social science inquiry validating that all ‘facts’ are subject to the gilding and staining with the colours of our own ‘values’. Highlighting the descriptive and evaluative aspects of thick concepts in particular, the paper argues that both natural and social sciences are engaged in tracing the conceptual relations and any real difference between the two lies in the aims, nature and methods of inquiry and not in the alleged fact/value distinction. Exemplifying this argument with the concept of terrorism the paper highlights, how the evaluative and descriptive aspects of the concept of terrorism is stained corrupting our sensitivity. Rejecting the consequentialists’ argument, the paper takes a deontological approach contending that achieving a global meaning of terrorism requires decoupling it from the concepts of war, religion, as well as a moral upgrade of war and holding both state and non-state actors responsible for committing the act of terrorism with equal spirit and force. By building a common ethos of reciprocity towards the act and the corresponding constitutive rules that emerges from, and are sustained by a web of social practices of the societies and the societies of states can only transform one man’s terrorist to be regarded as everyman’s terrorist.