Social science as a social institution: Neutrality and the politics of social research

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 25 (3):396-405 (1995)
Philosophy of Social Science, that social scientific investigations do not and cannot meet the liberal requirement of "neutrality" most familiar to social scientists in the form of Max Weber's requirement of value-freedom. He argues, moreover, that this is for "institutional," not idiosyncratic, reasons: methodological demands (e.g., of validity) impel social scientists to pass along into their "objective" investigations the values of the people, groups, and cultures they are studying. In this paper, I consider the implications of Root's claims for the use of social scientific results in the formation of policy in a democratic society. In particular, I argue that Root's results amplify familiar "post-modernist" conclusions: there is no "neutral" and "objective" basis for policy-making.
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