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The American Sociologist

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 59–70 | Cite as

Michael Polanyi and the sociology of a free society

  • Louis H. Swartz
Articles

Abstract

Michael Polanyi’s defense of freedom in science and society conflicts in major ways with Weber (process of rationalization, value neutrality of sociologists), Popper (objective knowledge, open society), and technological or oppositional sociology. Polanyi rejects positivism, utilitarianism, and Marxism, and defends freedom as a necessary condition for pursuit of spiritual ideals such as truth, justice, charity, and tolerance. Half truths about science seen as rejecting tradition, faith, authority, values, and the subjective, have helped bring valuable social results, but in the form taken by radical philosophical skepticism (doubt), also called objectivism, they also threaten freedom itself. A more truthful account is needed. Scientists and citizens who would maintain a free society are morally responsible persons, joined together in quest of truth and certain other ideals, demanding of themselves and each other that they be faithful to that quest. Polanyi’s thought has connections with that of Shils, and has implications for what Shils calls a consensual sociology.

Keywords

Open Society Scientific Rationalism Personal Knowledge Free Society Sociological Tradition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawState University of New York at BuffaloBuffalo

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