lec_13_human_sciences

lec_13_human_sciences - Lecture 13: The Human Sciences 1....

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1 1 Lecture 13: The Human Sciences 1. Social sciences and modernity/modernization 2. The case of cost-benefit analysis 3. War and social science 4. Ironies: Who is the real capitalist? 5. Relations to natural science and engineering 6. Audiences: making social knowledge technical 7. Descriptive and inferential statistics 8. The case of randomized clinical trials 9. Objectivity and the contexts of public science 2 1 Theories of Modernity Victory in the Second World War thrust the US into the unfamiliar position of global power. It offered itself as a model for the future: democracy, prosperity, technology, science. The problem of “modernity” became (more than ever) the great task of social science. 3 Which modernity? The Cold War offered rival versions of modernity. Both claimed the status of science. Both were offered to the postcolonial world. Modernization, an interdisciplinary social science project, presented liberal capitalism as the proper outcome of historical development. It believed firmly in human universals. 4 Social science theorizes itself Science was, by 1900, widely accepted as key to modernity. Social science was part of the package, maybe the most important part. But what was this “social science”? Up to the 1930s, many thought it meant public enlightenment, as in Pearson’s Grammar . In the postwar, American social science clearly chose a natural science model, which it (re)defined as specialized, technical knowledge. That, they said, is the kind of expertise that a complex, large-scale, modern society and economy need. 5 How could science be so specialized? After the war, science entered on a period of unprecedented growth. This was true especially of academic social science. Whereas private foundations had, in the interwar years, pushed cooperative work on social problems, postwar government money allowed discipline-building as a primary goal. (Someone’s idea of the accelerating growth of knowledge. The point of inflection is always right now!) 6 2 Cost-Benefit Analysis: How Planning Became Quantitative About 1830, Auguste Comte defined a hierarchy of science, based on its historical development. Mathematics, the most abstract, was the first field to become “positive” or scientific. Sociology, the most concrete, was the last. Biologists have often seen their field this way, but social scientists much more so. Quantifying, they said, was the method of science, which they now were applying to (basic) social science as a basis for a practical, applied examination of government decisions.
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2 7 More accurately… Practical work like keeping books and surveying land was as important a source of quantification as science or mathematics. By the 1700s, governments relied on censuses and financial accounts, and they created bureaucracies capable of handling them. Here is an indispensable source of economic quantification. Babylonian
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lec_13_human_sciences - Lecture 13: The Human Sciences 1....

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