Notes towards a better understanding of Commitments, Virtues, and Styles in scientific research work


A commitment (S. H. Becker 1960) “…is a bet that a certain course of action will turn out to be the right one, or at least an adequate thing to do.” (Gerson 1998 Ch. 2)


Virtues are standards of evaluation for scientific work. Things like parsimony, goodness of control, completeness, and explanatory power are virtues. Building and maintaining an alliance relies on either working according to the virtues of the audience which is in the alliance, or to appeal to change to virtues, although this means that the appeal itself must be evaluated, and so can be infinitely regressive.


Style are commitments about evaluative standards for scientific work. Evaluative standards are also called virtues, and so styles are commitments about virtues. Successfully organizing work is about cooperating on the basis of indifference, or the lack of strong objection, to a given set of standards.


Becker, S. H. (1960) “Notes on the concept of Commitment” American Journal of Sociology 66: 32-40

Gerson E. M. (1998) Unpublished Dissertation. Ch. 2.