Debates regarding the impossibility of being value free in social sciences

Ahmet Alp
609 127


The aim of this study is to discuss about the impossibility of being value-free in social sciences that have developed theoretically and methodologically since the 19th century. Social sciences emerged in the Enlightenment period that has led to many social changes and transformations in western societies. Social sciences which are younger than natural sciences relatively have been influenced by natural sciences crucially in terms of methodology. Moreover, it could be seen that social sciences still have intensive debates regarding theory and methodology because of being new sciences. They developed under the influence of positivist philosophy which accepted the knowledge and methodology of natural sciences in the 19th century. Therefore, social sciences have been affected by the approaches of being value-free. In the 20th century, when it is looked at the social sciences’ theories that were affected by the interpretive approach, which was supported by M. Weber, asserted that the researcher who studies a society is the object of the society at the same time, and therefore, the researcher cannot be value free while he/she studies on the society. Ernst Nagel (1979), Gresham Riley (1974), N. Robin (1968) etc. social scientists carried out some studies regarding values judgments in social sciences

Classical and contemporary sociological theoreticians have argued intensively regarding being value or value free of social sciences’ methodology. Furthermore, this study is a critique of positivism in respect of its methodological approach that supports to be value-free in social researches. Thus, it is aimed to contribute new aspects to literature for understanding and producing solutions for the problems of societies.

Key Words; Social Sciences, Value, Value-free, Positivism, methodology,

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