The Influence of
Social Science Findings
In this chapter we examine how social science findings can influence the immigration policy debate. For purposes of our discussion, we take a broad view of social science findings, defining them to include deductive and inductive conclusions and conclusions that combine both deductive and inductive reasoning. We begin by examining the relationship between social science findings and value judgments.
Social Science Findings and Value Judgments
In a well-known essay published in 1917, German social scientist Max Weber discussed value judgments in the social sciences.1 His main point was that scientific statements must be completely separate from value judgments, that is, "evaluations of a phenomenon . . . as worthy of either condemnation or approval."2 The social sciences, in other words, must be value-free.
What precisely could be the contribution of social science to questions of policy? Weber wrote:
It seems to me to be possible to establish without a shadow of a doubt that, in the area of practical political value-judgments (especially in the fields of economics and social policy), as soon as guidance for a valued course of action is to be sought, all that an empirical discipline with the means at its disposal can show is (i) the unavoidable means; (ii) the unavoidable side effects; (iii) the resulting conflict of several possible value-judgments with each other in their practical consequences.3
Weber declared that the scope of academic teaching could include both social science and value judgments only if the instructor "imposes on himself the unconditional obligation of rigorously making clear to his audience, and above all to himself, in each individual case (even at the expense of making his lectures boring) which of his statements on that occasion is an assertion of fact, either logically demonstrable or empirically observable, and which a practical value-judgment."4 But Weber also emphasized another point:
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Publication information: Book title: Immigration in America's Future:Social Science Findings and the Policy Debate. Contributors: David M. Heer - Author. Publisher: Westview Press. Place of publication: Boulder, CO. Publication year: 1996. Page number: 17.
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