the mccabe query

A few months ago, Endicott College sociologist and dean Josh McCabe asked on Twitter if we could just have value free sociology, which triggered a debate over activism in the profession. However, in the debate no one ever answered what I will now dub “McCabe’s question:”

What if you were on Fox News or the Rush Limbaugh Show and a hostile host said, “why should I believe anything you say? All of sociology is contaminated by politics. It’s leading voices claim that it’s the discipline of activism, not science. They claim ‘objectivity’ is misleading and they reject the idea that sociology can be scientific. Why shouldn’t I believe that sociology is just choosing the evidence that suits your moral views?”

I am not certain about it, but I think the only effective answer to McCabe’s Query is to somehow start with a value free or depersonalized stance towards evidence. In other words, we should probably begin by separating what we want to know about from how we study it. Then, we should claim that, yes, sociology is not activism in disguise. Activism is about what we value and sociology is about figuring what it true, independent of our particular position or set of values. This last phrase is what incenses people, but it is probably the only way to answer McCabe’s query.

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Written by fabiorojas

September 29, 2017 at 4:00 pm

Posted in uncategorized

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  1. How do you start with a value free stance towards evidence when what counts as evidence is already value infused? McCabe’s query is nonsensical given that neither Fox News nor Rush Limbaugh can be said to represent objectivity in any sense. Why is it that white men are the only ones speaking from positions of objectivity? These are he same folks who love denying the fact of global climate change…



    September 30, 2017 at 3:57 pm

  2. I tried to work through a pragmatic solution to this a couple of years ago. If interested, see “Is a Rortian Sociology Desirable?” in Humanity & Society.

    Liked by 1 person


    October 1, 2017 at 10:35 am

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