Empirical testing cannot adjudicate disputes when it comes to values. Let's take a case involving morality. You cannot argue a sociopath into believing that what he does is wrong, and you cannot show him anything in the world which proves that he should not do what he does. He feels no compunction whatsoever and will be deterred from acting however he wishes only by the law, specifically, the threat of punishment. He will carefully conceal his activities so as not to get caught, but the reason why he wants not to get caught is emphatically not because he cares what other people think. No, he simply wishes to retain his liberty to continue to do whatever he wants to do while "passing" as a normal person, as though he were moved by moral sentiment, within civil society.
One solution to the problem of disputes in matters of value more generally—both moral and aesthetic—is simply to deny that claims about value are anything more than the expression of the speaker's emotions. This is the gist of the theory of value known as emotivism, which offers a straightforward and simple way of understanding what people are doing when they argue about values or morality or aesthetics—or anything insusceptible of empirical testing.
Yes, we can observe a painting, and we can smell the scent of a perfume. But can we perceive that either of these are great works of art? No, the emotivist will insist. That sort of talk is a bunch of balderdash. Disputes in morality and in aesthetics are really much more about the disputants' reception of the objects than about the objects ostensibly under discussion. The speaker's attitude can be positive or negative. In this view, ranting about a perfume is akin to throwing a temper tantrum, no more and no less than a way of venting emotions.
This perspective can make some sense of the otherwise difficult to comprehend tirades by people who seem to harbor a visceral hatred of the house of Creed. I've seen similar behavior toward Bond no 9 as well, and the question becomes: why should anyone care so much about these houses? No one is forcing them to buy, and if anyone finds the price incommensurate with the value of the perfume, then they are perfectly free to walk right on by.
Instead, people often become highly emotional in denouncing especially Creed, blinded to the likelihood, given the large number of fakes circulating about, that the "swill" which they have sniffed wasn't Creed at all. The emotivist will reply that such strong emotional reactions betray the speaker's own peculiar issues. Maybe they'd be happier with a higher salary? Or less debt?
My distinct impression is that many perfumistas accept something like emotivism when it comes to perfume appreciation in venues such as the fragrance community websites. The tried and true adage one perfumista's treasure is another perfumista's trash leaps to mind once again. The entire enterprise of swapping relies on the fact that people disagree about the value of perfumes. Are some of them right and others wrong? The emotivist will say "No." There is no "truth" of the matter, in the way in which there is truth in matters of science.
Either the earth is flat, or it is not. It's not a matter of anyone's personal feelings about the question. Either a perfume has or has not been reformulated. If so, then it contains different ingredients or different proportions than it did at the time of its launch. That sort of question about a perfume can be answered through a procedure. Take a sample of the earlier perfume and a sample from a bottle produced later and have them analyzed using gas chromatography. You will find that either the graphs match, or they do not. If they do not match, then the perfume's composition has changed, regardless of the fact that it has kept the same name.
Yes, there are matters of fact when it comes to perfume: all of the facts which are amenable to scientific testing, according to the emotivist. What the emotivist denies is that someone's proclamation that a perfume is "one of the top ten of all time" means anything more than that the speaker loves the perfume.
We have seen this again and again in the perfume world, all over the place. In perfume reviews people may wax poetic about the ostensible object of their review, but in the end they tell us much more about themselves than they do about the perfume.
Emotivism may of course be false. It is a theory, after all—and a nonempirical one at that! Maybe there are value-laden facts about perfume. But if so, why do people not agree about what those facts are? Some people love Thierry Mugler Angel and Christian Dior Poison. Others find them abhorrent. What principles can be applied to adjudicate such disputes? To counter the emotivist's skeptical denial that value judgments are a matter of objective fact, one must come up with some way of resolving the disputes about value which arise among equally informed, equally intelligent people equipped with equally sensitive noses.
People who wish to claim that their personal judgments about perfumes are authoritative, somehow more reliable or accurate than those of others, need to produce some basis for this claim. What is it about them that makes them uniquely qualified to judge the quality of perfumes? Or are such people merely projecting their tastes in perfume upon the world? That is the question, my fragrant friends.