ethical indifferencethe doctrine that sociology, in its main research and theorizing, should no more occupy itself centrally with ethical concerns than should the natural sciences. This view has been taken recently, for example, by the ETHNOMETHODOLOGISTS, who have wanted to establish a new focus on careful ‘descriptions’ of the everyday social competence and social practices of members of society, and to do this free of any distracting requirement to ‘judge’ these practices. While, in part, this celebration of ‘ethical indifference’ rests on the aim of advancing the ‘empirical’ understanding of social action, it also derives from a view that sociology possesses no special basis on which to make value judgements which are not already possessed by the lay member of society The ‘social competence’ possessed by SOCIAL ACTORS is seen as establishing each actor as a ‘moral agent’. Compare VALUE FREEDOM AND VALUE NEUTRALITY.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000