There is an important methodological problem in the social sciences, the solution to which is to a large extent influenced by the philosophical orientation of scientists: the problem of the respective roles of theoretical thinking and of normative elements in the formation of social knowledge. The confusion of different aspects of this complex problem has often led to apparently simple and plausible but nonetheless questionable solutions. A confusion of language levels, for instance, may suggest that valuations in the range of objects or the value orientation of scientific activity implies that value judgments are necessarily present in scientific statements. There is a certain danger of blocking the way to a solution of the problem from the outset by a misleading formulation of the question. In modern moral philosophy the distinction between ethics and metaethics, based on the widely accepted difference between object-language and meta-language, has generally gained acceptance.