Andrew sayer lancaster university july2011pres


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  • Strange, then, that we should think of values as a problem. Values and more specifically evaluations of things as good or bad help guide us through the world and help us survive
  • Andrew sayer lancaster university july2011pres

    1. 1. Who‟s Afraid of Critical Social Science? Andrew Sayer Lancaster University July 2011
    2. 2. Early social science was critical! 18th/early19th century – description/explanation and normative evaluation were intermixed . . . E.g. Adam Smith on the division of labour. . . “The man whose whole life is spent performing a few simple operations . . . has no occasion to exert his understanding . . . He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become.” (Smith, 1776, 2.V.I., art.2, pp.302-3).
    3. 3. The Long Decline of CSS • Slow expulsion of critique, evaluation, values from „science‟ over last 200 years • Not only attempted expulsion of values from science but expulsion of reason from values (subjectivisation of values) • Weak capacity for normative reason in social science • Reflects rise of liberal modernism • Indifference to normative character of everyday life – „de-normativized‟ gaze
    4. 4. Critical Social Science 1970s - Now: From Audacity to Timidity . . . and back? • Emancipatory – disclosing oppression (e.g. feminism) • Reflexivity, disclosing hidden presuppositions, sceptical „unsettling‟- “the ever-so-slightly critical theory of today”. (Barry Barnes, 2000, p. 127)
    5. 5. Critique in retreat? Pierre Bourdieu Critique has . . . “retreated into the „small world‟ of academe, where it enchants itself with itself without ever being in a position to really threaten anyone about anything.” (2003)
    6. 6. Values as subjective and opposed to reason – as „bias‟, a „contaminant‟ threatening social science? • E.g.: “Whenever the person of science introduces his personal value judgment, a full understanding of the facts ceases” (Weber, Science as a Vocation, 1946, p.146).
    7. 7. Positivist-radical agreement • Positivist: Social science should strive to exclude values in order to achieve objectivity • Radical: Social science is unavoidably value- laden, so it can‟t pretend to be objective • I.e. both agree values and objectivity are opposed to one another – and confuse different meanings of „objectivity‟ (true and value-free)
    8. 8. The Fact-Value Family of Dualisms is – ought fact – value reason – emotion science - ideology positive – normative objective - subjective
    9. 9. Values within reason? • Values as abstract, sedimented (e)valuations of things • Values influence/are influenced by valuations • Open to challenge – but then so too are factual claims
    10. 10. A relation to the world of concern • Our relation to the world is one of concern/ – not merely cognitive or practical • Consequence of sentience, neediness – capable yet vulnerable – can flourish or suffer
    11. 11. Between normative and positive • Positive (descriptive/explanatory) = world- guided • Normative (evaluative, directive) = world- /action-guiding But which are „needs‟, „desire‟, „flourishing‟, „suffering‟, „well-being‟? Is - ought binary excludes evaluation
    12. 12. Beyond the fact-value dichotomy: „Thick ethical concepts‟ E.g. „oppression‟, „domination‟, „abuse‟, „racism‟, „sexism‟, „humiliation‟, suffering‟, kindness, etc. (Thin ethical concepts – „good‟, „bad‟) Descriptive and evaluative content are inseparable in thick ethical descriptions – valuation needed for objective/adequate description
    13. 13. Well-being as objective – i.e. a state of being - of which we have partial, fallible knowledge – that we try to identify, discover and create • Pluralist, not relativist – i.e. can take a variety of forms but not merely a matter of one‟s point of view or wishful thinking • E.g. being healthy, having the social bases of self- respect; being secure from violence; being able to give and receive care (Sen and Nussbaum‟s „Capabilities Approach‟)
    14. 14. Theories of value • Subjectivism/emotivism – „personal values‟ • Conventionalism – „what we do round here‟ – product of norms • Objectivist/relational – assessments of well- or ill-being (eudaimonistic)
    15. 15. Foucault: “ a critique is not a matter of saying that things are not right as they are. It is a matter of pointing out on what kinds of assumptions, what kinds of familiar, unchallenged, unconsidered modes of thought the practices that we accept rest.” (1998, Interview with Didier Eribon, 1981. In L.Kritzman (ed) Foucault: Politics, Philosophy, Culture, N.Y.: Routledge, p.155). On the contrary . . .
    16. 16. Critical in What Sense? 1. Critical of other research 2. Critique as scepticism 3. Critique as partisan – left/right, defending „subjugated knowledges‟ 4. Critique as de-naturalisation 5. Critique highlights the way discourse shapes the social world, including subjects
    17. 17. Critical in What Sense? (cont‟d) 6. Critical of false beliefs and practices based on them. 7. Critique of false beliefs and practices based on them, incorporating explanations of why they are held (Marxist concept of critique) - should be able to “explain the apparent truth of the theory that it shows to be false” (Bourdieu, 2005, p.215) 8. Critique of irrationality/contradictions 9. Critique of injustice, avoidable suffering, involving standpoint of well-being, ethics.
    18. 18. Telling others what to do? . . . “The role of an intellectual is not to tell others what they have to do. By what right would he do so? The work of the intellectual is not to shape others‟ political will: it is, through the analyses that he carried out in his own field, to question over and over again what is postulated as self-evident, to disturb people‟s mental habits, the way they do and think things.” Foucault (1997a, p.131).
    19. 19. Conclusions • A critical social science worthy of the name is about suffering, restricted flourishing and its causes. • Its critical standpoint requires some conception of well-being, flourishing/suffering. • Its political orientation follows rather than precedes it. • We need to re-unite social science and normative thought (e.g. moral and political philosophy) . . .
    20. 20. „Is‟ and „Ought‟ and the „Naturalistic Fallacy‟ “It is hard to think of any other widely used phrase in the history of philosophy that is such a spectacular misnomer” (Bernard Williams, 1985, p.121). • Factual statements don‟t logically entail value statements . . . So? • Not a matter of logic • Logical deduction not the only form of inference • „Valuey facts‟ • „Ought >> Is‟ relationships a problem? • Only dogmatically-held values are a problem (Anderson)
    21. 21. Critical Standpoints (1): Reduction of Illusion - Truth • False consciousness? Or are people infallible?!
    22. 22. Critical Standpoints (3): Need, reduction of suffering, restricted flourishing • People as capable of well-being or ill- being, vulnerable, dependent social beings • Rights? • Needs?
    23. 23. Critical Standpoints (2) Freedom • Foucault? E.g. implicit in studies of power? - problem of „crypto-normativity‟ • “[C]ritique is understood as an interrogation of the terms by which life is constrained” (Judith Butler, Undoing Gender) [Why should constraint be a problem?] • Critique as the identification of „unwanted determinations‟ (Roy Bhaskar) [Which ones should we want?]
    24. 24. Four Conceptions of Action and Society 1. Causal - material 2. Hermeneutic – meaningful 3. Causal-hermeneutic (e.g. Weber, CR) 4. Needs*-based - people as sentient, needy, desiring beings, capable of flourishing or suffering, forming attachments and commitments, suspended between things as they are and as they might become, for better or worse, and as they need or want them to become; * includes „cultural(ly-autonomous)‟ needs
    25. 25. Qualified Ethical Naturalism • The meaning of good and bad ultimately relate to needs, capacities for flourishing and suffering . . . But: 1. Cultures influence bodies. 2. Needs, flourishing and suffering always culturally interpreted – fallibly. 3. Some goods and needs are wholly culturally constructed.
    26. 26. “We feel that even when all possible scientific questions have been answered, the problems of life remain completely untouched.” (Wittgenstein, 1922, Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus, 6.52).
    27. 27. Evaluative judgement and the work of attention • “. . . if we consider what the work of attention is like, how continuously it goes on, and how imperceptibly it builds up structures of value round about us, we shall not be surprised that at crucial moments of choice most of the business of choosing is already over. This does not imply that we are not free, certainly not. But it implies that the exercise of our freedom is a small piecemeal business which goes on all the time and not a grandiose leaping about unimpeded at important moments. The moral life, on this view, is something that goes on continually, not something that is switched off in between the occurrence of explicit moral choices. What happens in between such choices is indeed what is crucial.” (Murdoch, 1970, p. 36).
    28. 28. Capabilities Approach (Sen, Nussbaum) • Substantive freedoms to choose a life one has reason to value – to have access to „functionings‟ – „beings and havings‟ that are intrinsically important: E.g. being healthy, having the social bases of self-respect; bodily integrity - being secure from violence;