fact-value distinction


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fact-value distinction

the distinction (often associated with HUME and the Logical Positivists) between factual assertions and moral assertions as two distinct classes of assertions, and the claim that moral assertions cannot be derived logically from factual assertions. While some sociologists have accepted the terms of this distinction (including, significantly, Max WEBER), other sociologists have refused to accept such a limitation on the significance of social science on the grounds that, for all practical purposes, facts and theories both inform and influence values, and that to deny this is to suggest an ‘irrationalism’ of values which is unwarranted. As GOULDNER (1973) remarks, ‘one possible meaning of the term “objectivity” in social science is the contribution it might make to a human unity of mankind’. See also VALUE FREEDOM AND VALUE NEUTRALITY, VALUE RELEVANCE, BECKER, HIERARCHY OF CREDIBILITY.