Social Philosophy

Download Dark Ages: The Case for a Science of Human Behavior by Lee C. McIntyre PDF

By Lee C. McIntyre

In the course of the darkish a while, the development of Western civilization almost stopped. the information won by means of the students of the classical age was once misplaced; for approximately six hundred years, lifestyles was once ruled via superstitions and fears fueled by way of lack of information. during this outspoken and forthright ebook, Lee McIntyre argues that this day we're in a new darkish Age--that we're as unaware of the motives of human habit as humans centuries in the past have been of the factors of such normal phenomena as ailment, famine, and eclipses. we're no extra alongside in our realizing of what explanations warfare, crime, and poverty--and the right way to finish them--than our ancestors. we want, McIntyre says, one other clinical revolution; we want the braveness to use a extra rigorous technique to human habit, to move the place the empirical proof leads us--even if it threatens our adored non secular or political views approximately human autonomy, race, type, and gender.Resistance to wisdom has regularly arisen opposed to clinical enhance. contemporary academics--economists, psychologists, philosophers, and others in the social sciences--stand within the manner of a technology of human habit simply as clerics tried to dam the Copernican revolution within the 1600s. a systematic method of social technological know-how may try out hypotheses opposed to the proof instead of locate and use facts simply to verify a specific idea, as is frequently the perform in contemporary social sciences. Drawing classes from Galileo's clash with the Catholic church and present debates over the instructing of "creation science," McIntyre argues that what we'd like so much to set up a technological know-how of human habit is the medical attitude--the willingness to listen to what the facts tells us no matter if it clashes with spiritual or political pieties--and the get to the bottom of to use our findings to the construction of a higher society.

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Are immigrants more likely than natives to be on welfare? Do immigrants receive more in services than they pay in taxes? Clearly this topic of research, more than most others in social science, has the potential for impact on public policy. Predictably, it is also therefore one of the most highly politically charged debates in all of social science. Sadly, despite the apparent simplicity of engaging in straightforward empirical investigation to answer these questions, the politicizing of this dispute has prevented the emergence of a consensus answer.

In the social sciences, however, it is claimed that the number of possible influences on human behavior is potentially infinite. If it is predicted that I will go downtown for lunch as usual, this may be subverted by any number of unforeseen factors: I may fall down and skin my knee, I may hear on the radio that the bridge is closed, or I may decide that I just do not want to go today. One cannot hope to have a science that would control for all of these unforeseen factors. 28 Chapter 2 3. It is impossible to be objective about our own behavior.

For if we are truly free, there are no laws governing us at all. We can act in any way that we see fit. My response to this argument may be interpreted as a pragmatic vindication of a science of human behavior. It is based on the premise that we do not know whether we have free will and that we must decide whether we should try to have a science of human behavior in the absence of decisive evidence concerning this question. How then should we proceed? My claim is this: if we do have free will, fine.

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