Logical positivism, a philosophical movement in the 1920’s and ‘30’s, held that a “proposition not reducible to a simple enunciation of fact can have no intelligible meaning.” The quote comes from Bruce Mazlish, The Riddle of History: the great speculators from Vico to Freud (Harper & Row 1966) at 204. The linguistic move in philosophy, which sometimes goes under the name of logical analysts or analytic philosophers, held that if words could not be clearly stated, defined, and subjected to measurement, then they degenerated into uselessness.
“Value,” “risk,” “quality” and “judgment” would have no intelligible meaning to a logical positivist. They convey something to all of us in an ordinary sense, but they fundamentally lack rigor and precision. If we only know it when we see it, to a logical positivist we do not know it and we can’t say anything credible about it (See my post of July 8, 2010: positivism’s perspectives on law department management.). We struggle to pin down these terms, and we always will.