Normative Theory

Topics: Sociology, Social sciences, Philosophy Pages: 2 (444 words) Published: September 9, 2010
Normative Theory
Normative Theory Hypotheses or other statements about what is right and wrong, desirable or undesirable, just or unjust in society. The majority of sociologists consider it illegitimate to move from explanation to evaluation. In their view, sociology should strive to be value-free, objective, or at least to avoid making explicit value-judgements. This is because, according to the most popular philosophies of the social sciences, conflicts over values cannot be settled factually. Moral pronouncements cannot be objectively shown to be true or false, since value-judgements are subjective preferences, outside the realm of rational inquiry. Thus, in his classic statement of the role of values in sociological research, Max Weber informed his audience that ʻif Tolstoi's question recurs to you: as science does not, who is to answer the question: “What shall we do, and, how shall we arrange our lives?” ... then one can say that only a prophet or a saviour can give the answersʼ (ʻScience as Vocationʼ, 1919 ). The majority of sociological enquiries are therefore analytical and explanatory. They do not pose normative questions such as ʻWhich values ought to provide for social order?ʼ and ʻHow ought society to organize itself?ʼ (Marxist sociologists are of course excluded from this generalization, since they generally subscribe to a different view of the relationship between facts and values, arguing with Marx that ʻthe philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point ... is to change itʼ.) However, without necessarily claiming to be prophets, some contemporary# (non-Marxist)# ociologists have nevertheless attempted to s find non-relativist foundations for solutions to ethical issues, for example by identifying (in the interests of a value such asjustice or progress) those moral principles which ought to regulate social relationships and institutions. Derek L. Phillips (Toward a Just Social Order, 1986) has advanced the controversial...
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