A Humanist Science: Values and Ideals in Social Inquiry

A Humanist Science: Values and Ideals in Social Inquiry

Philip Selznick

Language: English

Pages: 176

ISBN: 080475862X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Providing a capstone to Philip Selznick's influential body of scholarly work, A Humanist Science insightfully brings to light the value-centered nature of the social sciences. The work clearly challenges the supposed separation of fact and value, and argues that human values belong to the world of fact and are the source of the ideals that govern social and political institutions. By demonstrating the close connection between the social sciences and the humanities, Selznick reveals how the methods of the social sciences highlight and enrich the study of such values as well-being, prosperity, rationality, and self-government.

The book moves from the animating principles that make up the humanist tradition to the values that are central to the social sciences, analyzing the core teachings of these disciplines with respect to the moral issues at stake. Throughout the work, Selznick calls attention to the conditions that affect the emergence, realization, and decline of human values, offering a valuable resource for scholars and students of law, sociology, political science, and philosophy.

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which is value-centered and spiritually informed. In this noumenal realm we go beyond “understanding” (­Verstand ) to “reason” (Vernunft). Kant made room for faith and for another kind of knowledge, different from natural science, which would discern the truths of that other realm, which was based on reason and fortified by faith. This perspective opened new vistas for imagination, insight, and self-­understanding. Kant could not anticipate, still less control, the responses of his own and

human sciences take seriously the subjectivity and historicity of experience. This inward turn meant that the human sciences necessarily study how people feel, perceive, evaluate, and interpret; how selves are formed and refashioned; how people experience authority and cooperation—in short, how they The Postulate of Humanity  21 govern lives lived in association with others. Once the genie of consciousness was out of the bottle, the history of consciousness became a leading topic, which could

signs—and over the last forty years x  Foreword those signs have become unambiguous and programmatic—that he has “an ecumenical view of that discipline,”3 one that includes political, legal, and moral theory, with blurred boundaries not rigorously policed, which we are encouraged to cross. In Selznick’s hands, social theory is an integrative pursuit, committed to both the explanation and the evaluation of social phenomena. This inclusive aspiration is key, in opposition (“revolt” would be too

To be responsive rather than opportunistic, public policy must be open in some ways and closed in others: open to new voices and horizons, but closed by concern for its self-defining values. An institution cannot be responsive if it fails to see (and therefore will not meet) new challenges or if it forgets or forsakes its core values and main purposes. The burden of responsiveness is encountered in families, churches, business firms, and schools—wherever challenges are met by combining openness

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm, 8 liberalism, 3, 4, 67, 70, 80–81, 133 liberty. See freedom Lincoln, Abraham, 100 literature, 15, 27 152  Index locality, 35, 36, 63, 95, 103, 109, 121 Locke, John, 139n6; on property rights, 67; on society and government, 67, 70, 134; on state of nature, 67 love, 28, 30, 102; as ideal, 5, 6, 66; of neighbor, 24, 50, 132 loyalty, 37, 54, 67, 126 Luther, Martin, 8, 21, 36 Machiavelli, Nicolò, 8, 120 Madison, James, 46, 53; on checks and balances, 125, 129, 133 Maine,

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