Write an essay on objectivity and value neutrality in social science research

When these values play a direct role in the heart of science, problems arise as unacceptable reasoning occurs and the reason for valuing science is undermined.

Douglas gives, as a case study, a series of experiments where carcinogenic effects of dioxin exposure on rats were probed. Not every philosopher entertains the same list of epistemic values. A third reason to find the view from nowhere attractive is that if the world came in structures as characterized by it and we did have access to it, we could use our knowledge of it to ground predictions which, to the extent that our theories do track the absolute structures, will be borne out.

These ideas are controversial but they draw attention to the possibility that attempts to rid science of perspectives might not only be futile because scientific knowledge is necessarily perspectival, they can also be epistemically costly because they prevent scientists from having the epistemic benefits certain standpoints afford.

The drawbacks of an objective, value-free and method-bound view on science and scientific method are not only epistemic.

Neither of these arguments would, if successful, necessarily cause concern for a defender of the VNT. First, the meaning of observational concepts is influenced by theoretical assumptions and presuppositions. Objectivity means knowledge that does not depend too much on the particular individuals who author it.

But it also concerns areas that are more central to the VFI, such as the choice of a research method or the assessment of scientific theories. The explicit consideration of feminist values may act as a helpful antidote, in stark contrast with the VFI.

Scientific theories contain highly abstract claims that describe states of affairs far removed from the immediacy of sense experience. Contextual values influence scientific methods by determining the acceptable amount of inductive risk. This is for a good reason: Genuine scientific theories are tested against experimental facts or phenomena, which are themselves unobservable to the unaided senses.

A meaningful use of objectivity presupposes, according to Feyerabend, to perceive and to describe the world from a specific perspective, e. More than that, to portray science as value-free enterprise carries a danger with it: Can we ground the objectivity of scientific evidence in a framework that is explicitly based on personal attitudes?

While not free of assumptions and values, the goal of many measurement procedures remains to reduce the influence of personal biases and idiosyncrasies. But in fact, Feyerabend argues, the Church had the better arguments by the standards of 17th century science. Theories are seldom tested against brute observations, however.

We can explain the world and our image of it by means of theories that do not represent absolute structures and properties, and there is no need to get things absolutely right in order to predict successfully. According to the critics of the value-free ideal, the gap between evidence and theory must be filled in by scientific values.

Even the most implausible beliefs might, for all we know, be true as we are not infallible; and if they are false, they might contain a grain of truth which is worth preserving or, if wholly false, help to better articulate and defend those beliefs which are true Mill []: It is almost universally accepted that the choice of a research problem is often influenced by the interests of individual scientists, funding parties, and society as a whole.

When we accept or reject a hypothesis, there is always a chance that our decision is mistaken. Neutrality means that scientific theories make no value statements about the world: More often than not in the history of science, the existing body of evidence in some domain does not pick out a unique theoretical account of that domain.

Moreover, making sense of measurement results requires interpretation. To attain any of the four purposes—settling disagreements, explaining the world, predicting phenomena and manipulation and control—the absolute conception is at best sufficient but not necessary. To add some precision to this idea, Kitcher distinguishes three schemes of values: This too is for good reason: As a consequence, Feyerabend sees traditional forms of inquiry about our world e.

Second, he notes that no scientific hypothesis is ever confirmed beyond reasonable doubt—some probability of error always remains.

What we find is that the image, as standard bearer of is objectivity is tied to a relentless search to replace individual volition and discretion in depiction by the invariable routines of mechanical reproduction. The products of science are not tainted by human desires, goals, capabilities or experience.

Similarly, the proliferation and application of scientific research results is evidently affected by the personal values of journal editors and end users, and there seems to be little one can do about this.

Both defenses of the VNT focus on the impact of values in theory choice, either by denying that scientists actually choose theories Jeffreyor by referring to community standards Levi.Objectivity as orientation.

Findings should not depend on who did the research. Early positivism: the detached ‘scientific’ view. Is neutrality actually conservative? Declaring values in ‘qualified objectivity’.

Scientific Objectivity

Are researchers aware of their lack of objectivity? Value freedom as an unachievable goal, at all stages of a. The positivist perspective placed great emphasis on the objectivity of social research, accepting Science as 'the only general form of knowledge' that produces 'reliable social scientific knowledge' that can be generated into theory applicable to social behaviour within society (Benton & Craib, 23).

Value Neutrality - Research Paper Example

Even Max Weber, the figure most associated with the ideal of value-neutrality for social science, is quite clear that social science cannot proceed without values.

However, how the values do and should play a role in social science has been a central issue. Social scientists and philosophers argue that the ideal social researcher maintains value neutrality in the prediction, explanation, and description of social events.

According to them, a social event is an objective task where judgment of values is purely subjective, thus the subject should be regarded in a purely objective manner (Dolgoff, Loewenburg & Harrington, ).

Objectivity is the most cherished value of a scientific research. The essence of objectivity is to make a given research free from researcher’s biases. The bias can be caused by a variety of reasons and not all the reasons are always controllable by the researcher.

The term value neutrality was used by Weber to indicate the necessary objectivity researchers need when investigating problems in the natural sciences. Weber even though had introduced the term and accepted a scientific in the study of sociology, he did not believed that absolute objectivity is attainable/5(8).

Write an essay on objectivity and value neutrality in social science research
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