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a cynical and self-serving deception perpetrated on the U.S. Senate and theAmerican public by President Bush, which aimed to conceal the true relativedegrees of threat of different countries in order to push ahead the invasion of Iraqfor political gain. On this interpretation, President Bush and his top advisorswould be seen as desiring war in 2003 to get reelected in 2004; since war withNorth Korea was virtually impossible, Iraq would be the best target. The Bushadvisers might have calculated that the American public would never support aReflectivist Opposition to the Scientific Approach•133
war against Iraq if it knew that North Korea is in fact building nuclear weaponsand, in contrast, Iraq is almost certainly not. At most it might have chemical orpossibly biological weapons. The deception, these scholars might say, was so thatthe public would continue to insist that Iraq posed a greater threat to the UnitedStates than any other state. Was the decision to hide North Korea’s announce-ment an act of courage or a cynical manipulation of public opinion to aid reelec-tion? Some say Bush was advancing U.S. national interest. Others say Bushdeceived the United States for his own gain. Which act was performed?Whether we interpret President Bush’s act as one of wisdom and courage toadvance U.S. national security or as one of self-advancement and manipulationof the electorate to enhance his chances of reelection depends upon what weobserve President Bush to have done in earlier cases—and later cases, as timepasses. Of course, each of these other acts may be interpreted in more than oneway. But there are some possible interpretations that are highly implausible. Forexample, neither the action of person A with the knife nor that of President Bushin 2002 can plausibly be interpreted as an attempt at a musical recital. We willconsider this circularity next.At this point we can see that reflectivist theorists who take the interpretiveapproach would reject any attempt to draw a parallel in the social sciences withthe natural sciences on at least several of the standard features. One would beNS1 from Table 3.1 stating that the senses provide a solid basis for identifyingfacts. Interpretivists hold that facts are identified by constructed interpretationsand there might be many good interpretations. Interpretivists would also rejectNS2 and NS3 in the social sciences, since the lack of clear, uninterpreted factswould make it impossible to identify regularities among the facts and to quantifythe regularities. The claim that there are no uninterpreted facts in the social sci-ences would also undercut the argument for applying NS6 to the social sciences.If there are no truly “observational terms” then there can be no clear distinctionbetween observational and theoretical terms.