Value Presuppositions in Theories of Human Development

Value Presuppositions in Theories of Human Development

Value Presuppositions in Theories of Human Development

Value Presuppositions in Theories of Human Development

Excerpt

Although the development of values, especially moral values, is a lively subject of investigation in psychology and related disciplines, the theories and methods involved in this investigation are themselves often treated as independent of value considerations. The segregation of responsible inquiry from value judgments has been an explicit issue of debate in sociology since Max Weber's writings early in this century (Weber, 1949) but has played a more peripheral role in psychology. The major argument offered in favor of value-free inquiry is that freedom from bias is a precondition for truth as opposed to mere opinion (Kaplan, 1964). The pursuit of objective knowledge demands the suspension of value judgments. This position, as Weber himself emphasized, is itself a value judgment and appeals to values thought to constitute scientific work--unbiased observation, dispassionate analysis, valid reasoning, and so forth. MacIntyre (1978) has referred to the scientific community as "one among the moral communities of mankind," noting that, "objectivity is a moral concept before it is a methodological concept, and the activities of natural science turn out to be a species of moral activity" (p. 37).

With respect to theories of development, we pose two kinds of value questions. One kind of question concerns normative facts: What values are espoused by developmental theorists? What values are ingredient in their work? What is the relationship between their espoused values and their values in action? The second kind of question concerns our own value judgments about these norms: What values should we espouse? What values ought to regulate our inquiry? What values should a theory of human development embody?

In the chapters and discussions to follow, the contributors confront these and connected questions directly, considering not only those values that they study in . . .

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