I am in no manner an expert on anthropology
, but the broader attack on social sciences
is unwarranted. ebixx
suggests that "Sociology
and anthropology, since they tend to examine less quantitative
aspects of human well-being
, also tend to ask many difficult
-to-answer, hard-to-objectively-judge questions
about the intangible aspects of our collective well-being. As such, a very easy place to get lost or side-tracked." I wonder what bearing the above has on the notion of social science being a science?
In practice, it is true that social sciences deal with human behavior, among other things, that is highly variable, hard to predict, as well as difficult to understand. What makes social science "science" though is not the topic of study, but the manner in which it is studied. Social science attempts, sometimes well sometimes not, to employ the scientific method in its analysis of a given question. Given the logic described above, those in the hard sciences who are grappling with subjects that are not yet fully understood would also not qualify as practicing science. Surely, we wouldn't want to take that additional logical step, would we?
I further suggest that readers pickup some of the journals devoted to issues of social science. Some of them are clearly examining topics in a scientific fashion. Indeed, one of the many complaints of new graduate students in social science programs is the now almost universal need to learn a significant amount of statistics which can then be employed to analyze issues.
A commentary on the commentary by ebixx.
While I appreciate the offer of an apology, I do not accept it, as I do not believe one is necessary. We can disagree on this matter in a civil fashion, which I believe we have done.I am not offended, and, your observation of personalizing your comments are correct: I myself am a social scientist.
I still hold to my position that social sciences can be sciences. That there are problems with maintaining scientific rigor is, it seems to me, a problem with people practicing social science, not the subject matter itself. I draw an analogy: There are some architects who are lousy at what they do. This does not mean that architecture is at risk. I believe the same hold true for the social sciences.