Cosmopolitanism without Commensurability: Why Incommensurable Values are Worthless
3/26/2019 1:00 PM
YER : Student Center, K101 Meeting Room
İstanbul Şehir University Department of Philosophy

Kenneth R. Westphal
Boğaziçi University, Department of Philosophy

Max Weber’s issues about ‘value neutrality’ in social sciences (1917) and about political professionalism (1919) concern Wertungen in the form of Wertungsstandpunkte: what people evaluate in practice by standing for or against it, or standing aside to allow or at least tolerate it. Weber (1917) argues cogently that the scope and competence of social sciences are necessary to, though insufficient for, policy deliberations. Weber (1919) rightly advocates a political ethic of professional responsibility, because a politician’s prognosis of likely risks and success is often limited, especially in fraught circumstances. Weber’s diagnosis of continuing struggle and strife between proponents of competing evaluative standpoints appears bleak. I disambiguate some central features of Weber’s analysis to circumscribe the domain of legitimate policy debate. This bolsters my case for some basic universal principles and criteria of responsible and justifiable judgments, actions and policies, in theory and in practice.