- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Addressing Frenchy re: social science

Posted by: Samuel Day Fassbinder ( Citizens for Mustard Greens, USA ) on October 26, 1999 at 11:02:15:

In Reply to: And frankly, neither do I. posted by Frenchy on October 25, 1999 at 11:17:32:

: All the above quotes demonstrate something common in many of these discussions; the purported 'scientific' basis for a soft science, a social science.

: This notion is reinforced by terms like 'alienation', 'surplus value', 'effective demand' and 'scientific dielectism'.

: But what are these terms but jargon?

SDF: Nope, alienation is what happens to your work when you sell your work to employers, surplus value is what you call "wealth," and effective demand is the amount of money your merchandise sells for. You're making up 'scientific dielectism'. Three of the four "jargon" you've suggested above are as real as the nose on your face.

: If one agrees with the premises, ie; the jargon, then one must agree with the conclusions. In this way, and in this way only, can Socialists/Communists/Trotskyites/Liberals/Greens win points for their side(s).

SDF: Nope, social science discusses a real object, society. There are social regularities, and social facts, and knowledge of social facts can benefit the reader or hearer of them, in knowledge with all sorts of uses. Even money-making ones. Why do you think detectives, demographers, con artists, marketers, politicians etc. make a living at what they do, as successfully as they do it?

: Politics and Economics and certainly the Social Sciences are not Sciences at all but rather opinions,

SDF: And thus epistemologically indistinguishable from racist belief, folklore, and incoherent drunken babblings... NOT! Look, Frenchy, people can actually say true things about each other, and the creation of regularities from these "true things" constitutes social science. There's an order to it -- read Andrew Sayer's METHOD IN SOCIAL SCIENCE if you want to know something about that order.

: sometimes well thought out and sometimes not, that are shared for discussion.

SDF: Look, Frenchy, would you like to show us your idea of what counts as "well thought out"?

: Science can put a man on the Moon with certainty, or predict exactly how many electrons will pass a given point in one second given X volts. It's not only predictable, it's repeatable, every time. It is, in short, everything that human action is not.

SDF: As for "repeatable," people repeat themselves over and over again. The study of it all is called "communication studies" and "ethnography." Prediction? One can predict human behavior only to a point of probability. SO? People are complex, which doesn't invalidate the act of studying them.

: OK, I just had to get that off my chest.

SDF: Did you wish to dispute the existence of a claim to "social fact"? How about carrying capacity?

Follow Ups:


The Debating Room Post a Followup