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Kei Yoshida, "Sociology as a political project"

2007.11.12 吉田敬, 脳科学と倫理

On November 11, I made a presentation at the 40th annual meeting of Philosophy of Science Society, Japan (at Chuo University, Tokyo). The title of my presentation is "Sociology as a political project: Fuller, bioliberalism, value-freedom." Below is its brief report.

In his book, The New Sociological Imagination, Steve Fuller, the social epistemologist, criticizes what he calls bioliberalism. According to him, the social sciences are challenged by two sides, that is, humanistic and biological ones. In particular, Fuller finds a biological challenge serious. Fuller tries to reinvent sociology as a socialist project to counterattack bioliberalism as the biggest threat to the social sciences. First, I explained what is bioliberalism, referring to the so-called "liberal eugenics." In my view, bioliberalism is almost the same as liberal eugenics, although Fuller does not use the name. Then I examined Fuller's argument against bioliberalism, and criticized him. By reinventing sociology as a socialist project, Fuller seems to ignore the relation between value-freedom and education. One of the reasons Max Weber argued for value-freedom was to prevent a sociology teacher from imposing his/her particular views on his/her students. But Fuller does not seem to pay much attention to this point. In my opinion, this is an important problem, and we need to think about it further to have a better social institution.

I am not sure whether my presentation was successful. It may be not that good in that I could not answer some questions properly—although I am beginning to see how I should have answered. But as Karl Popper once stressed, learning from errors is important. I shall make the best use of the comments on my presentation to improve and clarify my views. I am now writing a review essay of Fuller's book. Hopefully it will be finished and published soon.

発表スライド (PDF [183KB]; in Japanese)

N.B. The review essay mentioned above was published in Philosophy of the Social Sciences. For details, please see this.

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