Max Weber's View on Social Science

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Max Weber's View on Social Science Max Weber thought that "statements of fact are one thing, statements of value another, and any confusing of the two is impermissible," Ralf Dahrendorf writes in his essay "Max Weber and Modern Social Science" as he acknowledges that Weber clarified the difference between pronouncements of fact and of value. 1 Although Dahrendorf goes on to note the ambiguities in Weber's writings between factual analysis and value-influenced pronouncements, he stops short of offering an explanation for them other than to say that Weber, being human, could not always live with his own demands for objectivity. Indeed, Dahrendorf leaves unclear exactly what Weber's view of objectivity was. More specifically, Dahrendorf does not venture to lay out a detailed explanation of whether Weber believed that the social scientist could eliminate the influence of values from the analysis of facts. Did Weber believe that, even though facts are one thing and values another, social and economic facts could be evaluated without the analysis being influenced by values? And what is the relation of objectivity to values? Could objectivity, for instance, be used to show that one value is superior to another? Or does objectivity apply only to the analysis of facts? Do one's values or perspective stem from human nature, metaphysical views, personal identity, or is it just as likely that they are a mere construct of culture? These questions, and others like them, underlie much that has been considered ambiguous in Max Weber's writings: His methodology. Since his death, sociologists and political scientists have been disputing where Weber stood with regard to questions concerning the relationship of objectivity to facts and v... ... middle of paper ... .... 21 Weber: Political Writings, "The Profession and Vocation of Politics," p. 355. 22 Portis, Max Weber and Political Commitment, p. 15. 23 Rogers Brubaker, The Limits of Rationality: An Essay on the Social and Moral Thought of Max Weber (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1984), pp. 5 and 6. 24 Portis, Max Weber and Political Commitment, p. 71. 25 Portis, Max Weber and Political Commitment, p. 72, quoting Weber from The Methodology of Social Sciences, trans. Edward A. Shils and Henry A. Finch (Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1949), p. 72. 26 Weber: Political Writings, "The Profession and Vocation of Politics," p. 354. 27 Brubaker, The Limits of Rationality , p. 54. 28 Portis, Max Weber and Political Commitment , p. 71. 29 ibid. p. 9. 30 ibid. p. 10. 31 ibid. p. 10. 32 Weber: Political Writings, "The Nation State and Economic Policy," p. 19.
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