Social science as an inherently moral endeavor

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The purpose of this paper is to argue that social science is an inherently moral enterprise. There are four reasons to see science as a moral endeavor based on the neo-Aristotelian recognition that morality is centered on human goods (e.g., justice and knowledge), not just right action. First, science is guided by epistemic values (e.g., accuracy, transparency) and underwritten by pro-science traits (e.g., honesty, patience). Second, the outcomes of applied science (e.g., disease cures, pedagogy improvements) are valued by scientists and others. Third, attempting to eliminate values from science is counterproductive because it leads to smuggling in moral commitments that are very difficult to critically evaluate, particularly in the social sciences. Finally, the goal of science is knowledge, which is a vital human good. Therefore, science is a thoroughly moral enterprise because human goods are moral aims. I conclude with three implications of this argument for science education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Moral Education
StatePublished - 2020


  • Aristotle
  • goods
  • moral
  • Science
  • values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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