Words and Distinctions for the Common Good

MPIfG Lecture

  • Date: Apr 10, 2024
  • Time: 04:00 PM - 05:30 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Gabriel Abend
  • University of Lucerne
  • Sign up: info@mpifg.de
 Words and Distinctions for the Common Good

Social scientists do research on many topics: gender, capitalism, populism, and race and ethnicity, among others. They make descriptive and explanatory claims about power, neoliberalism, values, the welfare state, social movements, and empathy. And yet, they can't agree on what these things are and how to identify them. Social science literatures and disciplines have never-ending disputes over their key words, distinctions, and classifications. Is there a way to resolve them, or should we stop wasting so much time, coffee, and cookies? As things stand, a social scientist may define their paper’s key words and classify things however they wish. I don’t think this is right. Those seemingly technical decisions shouldn’t be up to individuals, but to the community. They should be made through democratic procedures and be driven by the common good. In this sense, I argue that the logic of scientific research rests on moral foundations.

Suggested preparatory reading

Gabriel Abend. 2023. “The Problem.” Chap. 2 in Words and Distinctions for the Common Good: Practical Reason in theLogic of Social Science. Princeton, 2023.

0,0Gabriel Abend

Gabriel Abend got his PhD at Northwestern University. Next, he joined New York University's sociology department as an assistant and eventually associate professor. At present, he's a professor of sociology at the University of Lucerne. Shorter gigs include fellowships at the MPIfG, Institut d'études avancées de Paris, and Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. He hails from Montevideo, Uruguay.

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