Values-intuitive rational action: The Dynamic relationship of instrumental rationality and values insights as a form of social action

Woods, Philip A. (2001). Values-intuitive rational action: The Dynamic relationship of instrumental rationality and values insights as a form of social action. British Journal of Sociology, 52(4)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00071310120084535

Abstract

This paper is concerned with the implications for conceptualizing social action which arise from a consideration of whether human beings are capable of knowing ultimate (universal, unconditionally valid) values. This issue is framed within the view that the validity of our understanding of social action is inextricably linked with the validity of our conception of humankind: the scope and variety of social action has potentialities and limitations that are inscribed by the nature of human beings qua human beings. The paper suggests an enlargement, through the addition of a proposed conceptual tool, of the framework that comprises Weber's typology of social action. It argues that the common human properties of the person in whom social action is embedded should not arbitrarily exclude questions of the genesis of values. An analytical argument is put forward through an examination of the extent to which a faculty for values insights is implicated in Weber's concept of charisma and ethical analysis of political leadership. The notion of values-intuitive rational action is then outlined and discussed. The analytical argument is supported by theorizing from developmental psychology and examples of such action are given. Methodological difficulties in investigating the latter and the interrelationship of such action with institutional and social contexts are briefly discussed.

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