Saturday, December 7, 2013
Physics Envy In The Social Sciences
There is increasing pressure within the social sciences to conform with a textbook notion of how the physical sciences operate. Academic journals will only publish papers that are consistent with the mistaken idea that exists about how "real science" is conducted. They require that research be directed towards the verification of hypotheses derived from theories. There are many problems associated with the direction that has been taken by the social sciences. In the first place, many theories cannot be tested empirically, but they may be useful anyway. In the second place, many policies that are not derived from theory can be tested empirically. Empirical research can be very valuable in the absence of theory. This article is primarily about the direction taken by the political science profession. It also pertains to much of what happens within economics.