The driving philosophy of Max Weber, when it came to research was this: “statements of fact are one thing, statements of value another, and any confusing of the two is impermissible”. 1 The problems with Weber’s conceptual framework lie in the ambiguity of his explanations and in the details that he did not provide. Weber had to know that complete segregation of value and fact is not always possible and is not possible in all cases. The ambiguity is so profound that it is not even known whether Weber advocated value free scientific approaches or not! Although many have tried to provide the definitive explanation and interpretation of Weber’s intentions and meanings, none have truly succeeded.
It is conceivable that, with an understanding that a purely objective and unbiased approach to social science research was not possible, Weber had developed a dual approach: that an ultimate, immutable and fixed value cannot be established in some scientific endeavors, while ultimate, fixed and immutable values can be established in others.
Weber understood that, in developing “general principles” rather than “laws” that describe and govern social activity; it must be understood that such activity is subjective to the individual and is guided by individual motivations to act and behave. As a result, the general principles, established research topic, and other tools allow for as much objectivity and elimination of bias as possible.
When such values can be established, then they need to serve as a framework for objective evaluation, objectively choosing one system over another, based on superior effectiveness, and arriving at agreed upon, particular, fixed and standardized representations of ultimate value in order to resolve social dilemmas. The key to making social science as “scientific” as possible is to select the research topic, then use the most science available to do the research. Thus, Weber was able to justify comparisons between Capitalism and Socialism.
In other views, Weber stated that science must be value free, but that scientists can develop, identify and establish values. The scientist must specialize in science and in education, but must segregate political, moral and personal value judgments and pronouncements to the political or social arena.
In developing “general principles” rather than “laws” that describe and govern social activity; it must be understood that such activity is subjective to the individual and is guided by individual motivations to act. and behave.
CITATIONS AND NOTES
Note 1: Steve Hoenisch, “Max Weber’s View Of Objectivity”
Matheiu Deflem, “Classical Sociological Theory”