Max Weber revisited

The value relation(s) of technology assessment


  • Leonhard Hennen " Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS) , Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)" (DE)



politics of TA, Max Weber, Werturteilsfreiheit


In the current debate on the normative foundations of technology assessment (TA), demands for TA to explicitly take a political stance in technology policy making coexist with positions holding on to TA’s traditional role as a distanced observer of policy making. The present paper tries to clarify TA’s role by revisiting Max Weber’s critical comments in the so-called “Werturteilsstreit” (Value Judgment Dispute) at the beginning of the 20th century. It is argued that, contrary to what is often stated, for Max Weber scientific analysis refraining from value judgments and engaged scientific intervention are consistent with each other. Scientific analysis, for Weber, is impossible to conceive of without explicit reference to societal values. TA accordingly can (and should) be clear about its own value relations (Wertbeziehungen), and hold on to them in political debate, without necessarily abandoning its ambition of proper and distanced scientific analysis.



How to Cite

Hennen L. Max Weber revisited: The value relation(s) of technology assessment. TATuP [Internet]. 2019 Apr. 3 [cited 2021 Dec. 2];28(1):27-32. Available from:

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