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Distance and Engagement in a Time of War: Comments on “Social Science and Liberal Values”

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 September 2004

Peter Breiner
Peter Breiner is associate professor of political science at the State University of New York at Albany (


In “Social Science and Liberal Values in a Time of War,” Jeffrey Isaac urges us to discuss “the responsibilities of social scientists during wartime.” He focuses specifically on the ethics of responsibility appropriate to the university-based scholar when political authority attacks the values, both moral and non-moral, that we implicitly presuppose when we function as academics in general, and political scientists in particular. Isaac invokes the authority of Max Weber to elucidate the precise boundaries of these obligations as well as to find a notion of responsibility on which all political scientists, whatever their partisan commitments, can agree.Peter Breiner is the author of Max Weber and Democratic Politics and articles on Weber and other German theorists. He is working on a book on the role of examples in political theory. The author thanks Jeff Isaac for a most useful interchange that helped him focus this response.

Research Article
© 2004 American Political Science Association

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