“Recently, while reading Andrew Sayer’s book “Why Things Matter to People: Social Science, Values and Ethical Life,” I was captivated by the question of which of these two sentences sounds like a more accurate description of reality:
1) Thousands of people died in the Nazi concentration camps.
2) Thousands of people were systematically exterminated in Nazi concentration camps.
Most people probably pick #2. Just saying people died in Nazi concentration camps could imply they died a natural death, but saying people were systematically exterminated more accurately represents the Nazi goal of “purifying” the human race…
Sayer’s book is a thorough and persuasive argument that social scientists should not be afraid to use reasoned judgment about the social events they describe. In fact, not evaluating in some fashion the events social scientists describe would lead to statements like #1, statements that just don’t accurately describe reality…”