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value-free


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A central concern in the methodology of the social sciences is the extent to which it is possible or desirable for them to be ‘value-free’. The claim that they ought to be value-free (German, wertfrei) is associated with Weber: the question is whether insightful or useful descriptions of social phenomena can be given in terms that do not express the values of the author. If this cannot be done, it raises questions of the objectivity of the social sciences, and their dissimilarity from other sciences. The issue connects with the possibility of scientific or value-free interpretation. If interpretation is governed by a principle of rationality or charity, then values may infuse the entire enterprise of understanding and interpreting social behaviour of any kind.

Subjects: Arts and Humanities — Sports and Exercise Medicine.


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