FACT VALUE AND OBJECTIVITY
Science, it is claimed, is a value free. Metaphysicians may deal with values, but scientists may not, unless they treat the values as facts. Thus science gives stress on facts.
What is fact?
According to Goode and Hatt, fact is ‘an empirically verifiable observation’. Thus, facts are those situations or circumstances concerning which there does not seem to be valid room for disagreement.
Characteristics of Facts:
- A fact refers to something actually happened. Example: it is a fact that British left India in August 15 1947.
- It can be subjected to empirical scrutiny:
- Its existence cannot be denied: because it refers to is and not ought or nought smacking of some preferential orientation. (example: man’s desire for power)
- A fact is an objective reality:
Values judgments constitute a large share of social science data. For example the study of socialization is nothing but the study of the gradual acquisition of values by child and the comparative historical surveys measure changes in values within a cultural system.
- Values are Preferences: The central position of value judgments in social sciences lies in the fact that value judgments are merely formalized expressions of sentiments and emotions derived from culture and impelling men to action. Thus a value is a preference, positive or negative.
- Values are in the Ought To form: It follows from the above that values cannot be treated as facts, for they are related to the ‘ought’ and ‘nought’ of things. For example, “all people should take part in the management of public affairs so as to make their democratic system successful”, is a matter of value judgment. A moralist may say that man should always be guided by the idea of ‘good life’; a metaphysicist may say that ‘a man should inform his activity by the principle of self-imposed categorical imperative of duty. A value is an ought-form premise in contrast to an is-form statement. A study of values in all possible forms is called ‘axiology’ wherein focus on epistemological and metaphysical aspects of values is characteristically noticeable.
- Values are not absolute: it could vary from people to people and person to person.
- Values are Relational: when we make a value judgment, we are not saying something about ourselves. The terms which we use to make value judgments, according to this analysis, do not designate any property of the objects of which they are predicted; rather they are actually relational concept; they expose a relationship between the speaker and the objects of which he is speaking.
- Based on Speculation
- Values are all bout Right and Wrong not True or False
Role of Value:
- It is indispensible in human society: Values enter the cultural framework within which all socio-political analysis takes place. And this cultural framework is a necessary condition for social analysis, therefore, cannot be placed in abeyance.
- Helpful for Social Planning and Policy Making
- Values Supplement Facts
- Values guide behavior
Conclusion: As both facts and values stand in a poll opposite, the dichotomy of facts and values cannot be denied. To resolve this dichotomy ‘scientific value relativism’ was developed, in which facts and values should not be studied in absolute sense, rather they should be studied in relative terms. Thus, what we need is not value rejection but value neutralization, a sensitivity to rather than ignoring of values.
Why there is problem of objectivity in social research? Or is a value free social research is possible?
Objectivity is essential characteristics of scientific investigation. Sociology as science should have the goal objectivity. And every study has two aspects: subjective and objective. Objective study is a study in which mental condition of the researcher has no impact on the study and matter is observed in it correct perspective. So what is objectivity?
Objectivity simply refers to a state of being objective where ob i.e. not influenced by personal feeling or opinion.
Thus, objectivity can be defined as ability to see and accept facts as they are and not to be influenced by mere appearance or by prevalent notion or by one’s own wishes.
Objectivity is a ‘frame of mind’, so that the personal prejudices, preferences or prediction of social scientist do not contaminate the collection of data. Thus, scientific investigation to be called objective when it is free from the prejudice of race, color, religion, sex or any other ideological biases.
Need of objectivity in social research has been emphasized by all important sociologist.
For example: Durkheim: Social Fact must be treated as things and all preconceived notion about the social facts must be abandoned.
Weber: advocated value free sociology.
Redcliff Brown: the social scientist must abandon the ethnocentric or egocentric biases in research.
However Gunnar Myrdal viewed: the total objectivity is an illusion, which can never be achieved. Because all research is always guided by certain “viewpoints”, and viewpoints involves subjectivity.
In fact, it is difficult to achieve objectivity in social research because of the following grounds:
<Effect of emotional tendencies:
- Ideological biases: acquired in the course of education and training:
- Confusion regarding general knowledge: as we take our general knowledge as the final authority in deciding research, which can mislead us.
- Vested interest: objectivity is marred by vested interest, habit and biases.
- Effects of customs and social views:
- Hurried approach: when the problem needs immediate attention, we tend to admit any hurriedly arrived conclusion.
- Subjectivity: where it occurs?
<During the formation of hypothesis
<Collection of data
<Due to field limitation: where researcher will be opposed by the subject not to go for the other field.
But how objectivity can be achieved?
- Use of empirical methods
- Researcher should be value neutral
- Employing trained and skilled research worker
- Measurement of defined words, concepts, and units to be applied
- Collective research
- Use of random sampling: to avoid bias in sampling
- Use of mechanical devices: