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Human Studies

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 113–135 | Cite as

Evaluation as Practical Judgment

  • Jean De Munck
  • Bénédicte Zimmermann
Theoretical / Philosophical Paper

Abstract

What does evaluation mean? This article examines the evaluative process as a practical judgment that links a situation to a set of values in order to decide upon a course of action. It starts by discussing A. Sen’s “relational” and “comparative” account of evaluation, built in critical dialogue with J. Rawls’ deductive theory. Comparison, incompleteness, reality, and deliberation are the key principles of Sen’s approach, which, in some respects, echoes that of J. Dewey. The second part shows the relevance of completing Sen’s approach with Dewey’s pragmatism, since Dewey’s emphasis on practical judgment is a useful counterbalance to Sen’s focus on evaluation as a cognitive process. Dewey introduces a shift from values to valuation and draws a distinction between prizing and appraising, which makes the logic of inquiry and the search for consistency between means and ends in a given situation the fulcrum of evaluation. The third part of this paper addresses the relationship between values and norms in evaluative processes. Neither Sen nor Dewey deals with this question in a systematic way, although norms, which are both similar and different from values, contribute to frame evaluations in different ways: as horizons, resources, or constrains. Bringing norms into the picture means completing the pragmatist account with an institutionalist perspective, as we suggest through the example of the evaluation of work.

Keywords

Dewey Evaluation Institutions Norms Practical judgment Sen 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Catholic University of Louvain, CriDISLouvainBelgium
  2. 2.Georg Simmel CenterEHESSParisFrance
  3. 3.ParisFrance

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