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Thursday, September 20 • 9:30am - 10:30am
Realist axiology: A realist perspective on 'valuing' in evaluation

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Gill Westhorp (Charles Darwin University)

Evaluation intends to contribute to learning and to inform decision-making by providing information about the value, worth or merit of interventions, initiatives or innovations. Over the past 20 years, realist evaluation has transformed parts of the evaluation sector by introducing new ways to think about what programs are and how they work. The approach is grounded in realist ontology (the philosophy of 'what exists') and realist epistemology (the philosophy of knowledge.) However, there has been little significant work on realist axiology - the philosophy of value and valuing - in evaluation. This presentation will open the axiological black box, enquiring into the ways that a realist understanding of value and valuing may inform evaluation. It will present and briefly discuss seven questions, each with implications for evaluation practice:
  • What is the relationship between the ideas of "values" and "value"?
  • Can there be a realist axiology that derives from, or is at least consistent with, realist ontology? Are there implications of realist ontology for 'values' with particular importance for evaluation, such as 'responsibility'?
  • In realist analysis - are values (in both senses) contexts, mechanisms, or outcomes? • What are the relationships between programmes' inherent value and values and those of intended beneficiaries? Can 'the realist question' be adapted to evaluate value positions and differences?
  • How might we take a realist approach to value and values themselves, recognising that what we value, and to what extent, is different in different contexts?
  • How might we take a realist approach to the ethical frameworks which guide our work - research ethics and evaluators' codes of ethics?
This presentation is intended to stimulate discussion about an under-developed area of realist evaluation practice. By doing so, it has the potential to transform evaluation practice in ways which may in turn contribute to the transformation of policies and programs. 

Chairs
avatar for Catherine Manley

Catherine Manley

Principal, Miles Morgan Australia
Catherine found her home in evaluation while completing her master's degree and learning from Sandra Mathison at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. She now works in areas of evaluation and strategic research across Australia within areas of social policy relating to... Read More →

Speakers
avatar for Gill Westhorp

Gill Westhorp

Professorial Research Fellow, Charles Darwin University
Gill leads the Realist Research Evaluation and Learning Initiative (RREALI) at Charles Darwin University. RREALI develops new methods and tools within a realist framework, supports development of competency in realist approaches and provides realist evaluation and research services... Read More →


Thursday September 20, 2018 9:30am - 10:30am
Chancellor 4 Hotel Grand Chancellor Launceston

Attendees (48)