Skip to main content

FACTS AND VALUES: A Processual Approach

FACTS AND VALUES: A Processual Approach

5 May 2021

Date/Time: Wednesday 5 May 2021, 16:00


The paper proposes a new approach to the fact value problem in social science. It begins with current practical problem of facts and values in sociology, and notes its origin in the work of Kant, as later modified by Marx, Durkheim and Weber. It then argues that facts and values are central to our theories of the past and the future, respectively. It therefore embeds the fact/value problem in a processualist account of the social world, discussing the sedimentation over time of values into facts, and the reciprocity between facts and values across social space. The analysis then culminates in the conception of "facting" and "valuing" as concurrent processes in the present. The facting process attempts to assemble out of the social process those things that can be taken for granted and that present no occasion for decision. The valuing process attempts assemble from the social process those things that require or can be construed as requiring choice and action. Thus facts and values are a mutually influencing products of ongoing processes endogenous to the social process, and rules for a social process that is morally justifiable have to be rules about how to modify and regulate the processes of facting and valuing.


Abbott's major research interests lie in the sociology of occupations, professions, and work, the sociology of culture and knowledge, and social theory. Abbott also has longstanding interests in methods, heuristics, and the philosophy and practice of sociology.

Abbott is currently completing The Social Process, an exposition of processual sociology as an empirical and normative project. He has recently published new work in German (Prozessuales Denken: Reflexionen über Marx und Weber. Hamburger Edition, 2019.) and in Italian (Lezioni italiane: l’eredita della Scuola di Chicago. Orthotes, 2018.)