Objectivity in Social Science and Social Policy by Max Weber Essay

2306 Words Dec 25th, 2005 10 Pages
"Objectivity" in Social Science and Social Policy, by Max Weber

In this article Weber gives his understanding of the nature of the social sciences and methods of scientific research. The centre question under discussion is how to combine judgement about practical social policy and objectivity. Weber is debating over the validity of the value-judgements uttered by the critique. "In what sense, - asks he, - if the criterion of scientific knowledge is to be found in the "objective" validity of its results, has he (the author) remained within the sphere of scientific discussion?" (51). What is "objectively valid truth" in relation to social and cultural phenomena? By looking into the phenomenon of objectivity Weber attempts at resolving the
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73. The ideal which all the sciences, including the cultural sciences, serve therefore is a system of propositions from which reality can be deduced". 73. The reality to which the laws apply always remains equally individual and equally undeducible from laws, concludes Weber. (73).

Social science, therefore, is interested in the real or individual structure of our cultural life. (74). The significance of a cultural phenomenon and the basis of this significance can not be deduced, justified and explained by a system of analytical laws, as "the significance of cultural events presupposes a value-orientation towards these events. The concept of culture is a value concept". (76).

At the same time we do need a starting point from which to start analyse reality. Otherwise we will end up in a chaos of "existential judgements" about countless individual events, warns us Weber. Having said that, knowledge of causal laws is only a means of that investigation, but not the end of it, he says. (79). But to be useful for the understanding of the significance of cultural events and causal links between individual phenomena, these laws should be specific. (79).

"Objective" analysis of cultural events, which proceeds according to the thesis that the ideal of science is the

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