Should social science be critical?
Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 35(2) pp. 175–195.
The word critical has become an honorific title used by researchers to commend their work, or the particular approach they adopt. Conversely, the work of others is often dismissed on the grounds that it is "uncritical". However, there are important questions about what the term critical means, about what we should be critical of, and about the form that criticism ought to take. These questions are addressed here in relation to both the role of the social researcher itself and that of researchers operating as public intellectuals. It is argued that the distinction between these roles is an important one, and has implications for what can legitimately be criticised, on what grounds, and in what way. In each case, there are proper limits to criticism, albeit different ones. Like anything else, criticism is not always a good thing.
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