The Problem of Social-Scientific Knowledge

By William P. McEwen | Go to book overview

3 The Value-Centric Predicament

A. The Evaluational Dilemma

"Two souls, alas, within my breast abide." A social scientist who feels that he is torn between his conflicting loyalties to both truth and justice shares Faust's dilemma. Consider his dual role. On the one hand, he is intellectually obligated to maintain a completely disinterested attitude for the purposes of scientific analysis. However, on the other hand, he is morally obligated to maintain an enlightened good will by providing administrators with intelligent guidance in the making and implementation of public policy decisions. Consider for example, the thesis of the Harvard Research Center in Creative Altruism: "the moral transformation of man and the man-made universe is the most important item on today's agenda of history."1

Dedicated as he is to describing the actual sociocultural and/or motivational conditions of human behavior, the social scientist's concern about human welfare drives him to an "agonizing re-appraisal." This desire to resolve frustrations in the sociocultural situation of

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