LOST IN SPACE TOWARDS A GENERAL PHILOSOPHY OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
(Chapter 3 of my book "PHILOSOPHY FOR ME"-EDITIONS COOPERATIVE, BUENOS AIRES, 2007).
Philosophy and Social Sciences
1. Social sciences, not inferiority complex
Austrian economist Fritz Machlup wrote a seminal essay called "The inferiority complex of the social sciences," whose title said it all. Next to some natural sciences are very proud of themselves, their perfect world of course indubitable facts, tested and mathematized, social sciences had (do they have?) An inevitable inferiority complex. "We're going to be like you" is her culpógeno ad, and, meanwhile, almost embarrassed to take their contingency interpretive frameworks, their inaccuracy, their dependence on various philosophies and ideologies. In other words, their "reliance on all things human." Well, after chapter two, we saw that things need not be. The natural sciences "also" are human sciences. The distinction so common among "liberal arts and sciences" is, to say the least, curious. Science is essentially human. God does not need science (and an agnostic can match that "hypothetically") and the animals either. Just human beings, in a peculiar middle ground between the higher mammals and "gods" is the science that needs your and technique to survive in a universe indifferent to their needs first. Science is too human, if not human, not science. It is revelation supernatural or instinct.
Thus, beyond the debate over its degree of certainty, science depends on our conceptions of the world, our interpretations, our fallible conjectures that attempt to give birth to a world infinitely stranger. The scientific method is a test walk, error, fallibility and progress. Social science, therefore, "too." They are not superior or inferior to any human attempt to make sense of the world. They have, if their differences. These differences go below.
2. Ethics, history, social sciences
Let's start with its prehistory. "At first, that is, from the dawn of philosophy, and until very recently, there was social sciences. There was, yes, something very important, which is made a direct application to the social world. It was and remains the ethics.
to the Greek conception of the world, a separate ethics of social life was almost inconceivable. In Aristotle, say for example not less-ethics and the study was not only the virtues that perfect the human nature. The maximum of these civic virtues was concerned by the "city." The life of the "polys" was the ultimate perfection of man. Now, how should it be "ruled" that polys? Naturally, so "good." The famous Aristotelian classification of the forms of government and reveals it. If the government of one, a few or many was "good" then we had a monarchy, aristocracy and the republic. Social issues were ethical issues. At no time was thought might be called a "technical", that "without value judgments" made its recommendations for "efficient management".
The cultural emergence of Christianity, Judeo-Christianity, involved enormous changes in world outlook, but remained above feature. Christianity implies precisely that there is something prior and superior to the polys: the relationship of each individual with God. From there, from the "City of God" must be judged the "city of man." With the establishment of the Carolingian Renaissance (IX) and the formation of the Holy Roman Empire, is formed a conception of social life where the "auctoritas" human is the "secular arm" of the Church. "The Prince" has a certain autonomy time but its "function" is almost like an instrument of the Church. The Muslims felt the same; simply differed on who was the prince who was the prophet. And the Jews did not then because they had run out of their earthly city (which, if existed, revolved around the temple).
The separation between Catholics and Protestants do not change the subject. Luther and Calvin continued to believe that the ethics of the city of God should continue to govern the city of man, a man, and, for them, irrevocably destroyed by sin. The question does not change the century continental rationalism XVIII, whose most illustrious representative is Kant. With it, society also on their way to the republic, science and perpetual peace depended ethics. A different ethic, yes, more secular, dependent on an absolute imperative but not metaphysics or religion, in principle. But as strong and unequivocal. The secular and democratic republic, guided by Newtonian science and compulsory education, must now "dominate the earth." The biblical mandate is changed content. Go and baptize ... ... ... .. Becomes "Go and teach, civilize ....", But with the same ethical impulse and expansive, esoteric, in earlier times.
Amid all this, another tradition, equally important in Western philosophy, it opens up. It's the story. But not just an (impossible?) "Historiography" but as "understanding." Dilthey (late nineteenth century) is here the key author. We can understand social phenomena because our human condition provides an interpretation of our history in a way that could not have a nest, let alone a piece of rock. We put ourselves in the place of Napoleon, and, more disagreements we have, understand their motivations, and thus their actions. In that sense, the history includes natural sciences and "explain." In this tradition, social science history. Or the story "is" the social sciences. Some of this, though with many differences, there remains a Gadamer that opposes (1960) the truth of historical consciousness to the method of natural science. German Continental philosophy still has a confrontation with a social science positivism prevalent in some areas whites.
3. Of ethics to the spontaneous order
Amid ethics in the midst of the story, there was room for something else?
Let's look more in the history of Western philosophy and find some things.
First, by Marjorie Grice-Hutchinson, a famous study of the School of Salamanca, (thesis directed by Hayek), English Dominican jusuitas and have developed the first theories on prices, inflation, wages, etc., Anticipating the way the economy would from s. XVIII. That is, for example, that "is" inflation, a part of what "should be." Other authors such as Rothbard, Novak, Chafuen, Huerta de Soto, etc., Have long studied this thought.
s. In the early XVIII we have only the beginnings of the Classical school of economics, but the Scottish School, with authors such as Hume, Smith, Ferguson. The latter coined the felicitous phrase that society is result of human action but not of human design. " This means that for them the social order was "spontaneous", ie not the result of a deliberate act of foundation. Social phenomena involving "attempted consequences, evolution or involution that escape deliberate planning of a person or a group of people. There are social phenomena something you can study, but not planning. This is interesting ...
This issue is taken up explicitly by the Austrian economist C. Menger in his theory of the origin of money as spontaneous social institution. This line "institutionalist" evolutionary "social phenomena is taken up later by Hayek, but L. von Mises who, in my opinion, he coined an explanation, at the beginning of his treatise on economics, which is key to understanding a social science that is not "only" ethics. It reads: ".... The discovery of a Regularity in the sequence of market phenomena and Interdependence Went Beyond the limits of the traditional system of learning. Conveyor Knowledge Which It Could Be Regarded Neither as logic, mathematics, psychology, physics, biology standards. " This paragraph is key. It asserts that taking note of something that is beyond the traditional fields of knowledge. That which is beyond, and has a certain (let's see why I say "some") autonomy of ethics is a "sequence and regularity", ie, a certain "order" in the unintended consequences of the actions attempted. Adopt an attitude to this order is to start doing theoretical social sciences in a way not only new, but constitutive, ie, the social sciences are "it": the study of spontaneous orders. I can "want" a poet rather than a player wins, you might consider this to be good, but if I am part of the millions and millions of people watching football games on television or go to the stadium, then I myself, as therefore not attempted, I'm causing the high salary of the player. A government can considered good for the workers of a given sector earn U $ S 1000 a month, but the consequence is that some untried potential employers will stop hiring them. I want and I can well consider that the secretaries of my company (not my case) to win U $ S 10,000 a month, but the consequence is that I have not tried more applicants than I can absorb and "have to" lower the wage I am offering. Or, conversely, I can consider it unfair that a famous footballer earn millions more than a professor of Physics I, but if I see their games, I'm part of the reason why the player wins millions. And so on ....
4. Of spontaneous order of ethics, ethics, human action
we say then that the social sciences are only descriptive of spontaneous orders and regulations in any way? No, because, as we saw in every human action there is an implicit moral decision. But a consequence, an inter-action that goes beyond the end sought by the individual directly. That consequence can be attempted, in turn, good or bad, but the "description" of those consequences are the result of human inter-action has a margin of autonomy from traditional ethics. If that margin is not the difference between social science and Ethics is not alone. It's quite good that everybody has food to spare, "but" is that for example there is a science, economics, tells us that "there is" scarcity, and then wages can not be increased simply because it is "good": there also a process of saving, capital formation ... ...
is not, therefore, to oppose a science "facts" vs. normative ethics. Social phenomena involve a "world", that is, according to Husserl, a set of relationships between people (inter-subjetvidad), and that is the social world and social world that has its moral values \u200b\u200bas constitutive it is part of their cultural horizon. Simply, this social world is an evolution or involution, ie a series of inter-actions are not tried not only reduce the ethical juice each particular action.
But what is behind this "regularity" of Mises speaking? Is not there freedom in human actions? Yes, that will be our next chapter. But the examples given, we saw the consequences attempted are not "arbitrary": they have an order that emerges from free decisions previously taken. And that order is about essentially philosophical issue: the rationality of human beings rationality fallible, uncertain, but finally rationality: fallible and changing pursue certain goals and resort to fallible and changing media. I want to buy a book, buy it, and millions and millions of similar to mine "cause" that a particular offender is rich and famous ....
5. Human action
But as we see, after all we are saying is a philosophical anthropology, a conception of human being in turn implies a certain concept of human action.
In this sense, the most important theoretical problems of the social sciences have to do with the notion of action and inter-action we're driving. An economist in favor of the theory of surplus value Marx sees the world as the exploitation of capitalism in the U.S. and Europe regarding the exploited: Latin America, Africa, etc. Needless to say he figures on the U.S. domestic GDP, or that they show that GDP per capita in this or that Latin America has grown, he will have other "figures" to show that inequality has grown.
But how the world sees someone trained in another conception of the economy? Upside: Latin America is poor because it has never generated the cultural and institutional conditions for the legal stability that is necessary for saving and investing for the long term. On the other hand, the theory of value is different: for one, is the work-value in Marx, for the other, is the theory of subjective value of Menger and Bohm-Bawerk. From these two world views, diametrically opposed, not that they see "the same" from two perspectives: are different phenomena, directly. U.S. and Latin America are not the same for some and for others, and all cause and effect relationships are different for both perspectives.
Which of the two is correct?
To respond, you should go to the theory of value and thus ... ... The theme of human action, rationality, intentionality action, free will, the fallibility of the action,
uncertainty ... And all this is just philosophical anthropology. So
a) the social sciences long time to be distinguished from the mere ethics.
b) This does not imply that the social sciences are completely independent of ethics.
c) The autonomy of the social sciences has to do with the gradual emergence of a new paradigm, the notion of spontaneous social orders.
d) This notion of spontaneous order has to do with issues such as bounded rationality, intentional human action, inter-subjectivity, free will, order, etc..
e) These issues are essentially philosophical.
And those issues we will work in most of the classes that are ...
Suggested Reading - Blaug, M.: The methodology of economics, Alianza Ed, Madrid, 1980.
- Casaubón, JA: "The relationship between science and philosophy" in Sapientia, vol. XXIV, 1969.
- Popper, K.: The Poverty of Historicism, Alianza Ed, Madrid, 1987.
- Gadamer, HG Truth and Method, Follow Me, Salamanca, 1991.
- Truth and Method II, Follow Me, Salamanca, 1992.
- Hayek, Favon: "Scientism and the Study of Society," in The Counter Revolution of Science, Liberty Press, 1979.
- "The Theory of Complex Phenomena," in Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Chicago Press, 1969.
- Mises, L. von: epistemological problems raised by the sciences pertaining to human action ", chap. II of Human Action, Sopec, Madrid, 1968.
- Gallo, E., "Hayek and historical research: some reflections", in Policy Studies, Center for Public Studies, Santiago de Chile, No. 50, 1993.
- Cornblit, O., (ed.): Dilemmas of historical knowledge, arguments and disputes; Ed Sudamericana / Instituto Torcuato Di Tella, Buenos Aires, 1992.
- Machlup, F.: "The inferiority complex social sciences ", in Libertas, ESEADE, BA, No. 7.
- Weber, M.: The Methodology of the Social Sciences, The Free Press of Glencoe, Illinois, 1949.
- Schutz , A.: On Phenomenology and Social Relations, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1970.
- Husserl, E.: The Crisis of European Sciences, Northwestern University Press, Evanston, 1970.
- Dilthey, W.: Introduction to the human sciences, FCE, 1949.
- Gordon, S.: The History and Philosophy of Social Science, Routledge, 1991.
- Polanyi, M.: Personal Knowledge; Routhledge, 1998.
- Menger, C.: Investigations Into the Method of the Social Sciences; Libertarian Press, Grove City, 1996.