Marriage and family research has its foundation in the positivist tradition, which dismisses the relevance of morality to the scientific enterprise. Yet morality is inherent in marriage and family studies—both in the topics studied and in methodology. In this conceptual research, positivist assumptions are explicated to show that positivist methodology relies on a stance of moral neutrality that turns out to be a hidden morality. This hidden morality requires that people be studied as other objects. The need for a methodology that has an explicit moral philosophy and that acknowledges that humans are not “things” is discussed. Levinas' relational philosophy of “being for the other” is shown to be one viable starting point for a methodology that takes the moral domain seriously. In contrast to methodologies that have their basis in positivism, this philosophy offers a coherent account of agency, a relational alternative to individualism, and an explicit moral stance intended to strengthen marriage and families. A method of evaluating research based on criteria of “being for the other” is outlined and used to evaluate three research articles to demonstrate how an explicit moral philosophy can strengthen the meaningfulness of empirical marriage and family research.
College and Department
Family, Home, and Social Sciences; Family Life; Marriage, Family, and Human Development
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Howard, Rachelle Erika, "Acknowledging Morality in Methodology" (2008). Theses and Dissertations. 1944.
methodology, moral, morality, moral philosophy, moral relativism, research methodology, Levinas