LECTURE 5: LAWS IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES?

LECTURE 5: LAWS IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES?

LECTURE 5: LAWS IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES?

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Presentation Transcript

1. All my course outlines and PowerPoint slides can be downloaded from: http://www.freewebs.com/mphk2/ Friday, November 9th: Lecture 6: Causes and Reasons Friday, November 16th:NO LECTURE Friday, November 23rd: 3-4pm: Lecture 7: Practice 4-5pm: Lecture 8: Values and Critical Theory

2. LECTURE 5: LAWS IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES?

3. The whole problem/discussion is premised on the view that we have laws in the natural sciences. Do we? Cf. van Fraassen, Giere

4. §1. Introduction: Hempel on Explanation and Prediction in History (Hempel (1942/1994) L1, L2, … Ln C1, C2, … Cn ----------------- E } Explanans Explanandum

5. C1: The car was left in the street all night. C2: Its radiator, which consists of iron, was completely filled with water, and the lid was screwed on tightly. C3: The temperature during the night dropped from 39°F. in the evening to 25°F. in the morning; the air pressure was normal. C4: The bursting pressure of the radiator material is so and so much.

6. L1: Below 32°F., under normal atmospheric pressure, water freezes. L2: Below 39.2°F., the pressure of a mass of water increases with decreasing temperature, if the volume remains constant or decreases; when the water freezes, the pressure again increases. L3: A quantitative law concerning the change of pressure of water as a function of its temperature and volume. Conclusion (deduced by logical reasoning): The radiator cracked during the night.

7. Why don’t explanations in history have this form: • The laws are sometimes trivial.

8. Why don’t explanations in history have this form: • The laws are sometimes trivial. • The laws are sometimes too complicated to state.

9. Why don’t explanations in history have this form: • The laws are sometimes trivial. • The laws are sometimes too complicated to state. • Note: • The laws often come from other fields.

10. Why don’t explanations in history have this form: • The laws are sometimes trivial. • The laws are sometimes too complicated to state. • Note: • The laws often come from other fields. • Often we get only explanation sketches.

11. §1. Introduction: Hempel on Explanation and Prediction in History (Hempel (1942/1994) “The scientific explanation of the event in question consists of …

12. 1. a set of statements asserting the occurrence of certain events C1, ..., Cn — at certain times and places,

13. 1. a set of statements asserting the occurrence of certain events C1, ..., Cn — at certain times and places, 2. a set of universal hypotheses, such that a. the statements of both groups are reasonably well confirmed by empirical evidence,

14. 1. a set of statements asserting the occurrence of certain events C1, ..., Cn — at certain times and places, 2. a set of universal hypotheses, such that a. the statements of both groups are reasonably well confirmed by empirical evidence, b. from the two groups of statements the sentence asserting the occurrence of event E can be logically deduced.”( 43-44)

15. “The preceding considerations apply to explanation in historyas well as in any other branch of empirical science.” (46)

16. “The preceding considerations apply to explanation in historyas well as in any other branch of empirical science.” (46) • “Most explanations offered in history or sociology, fail to include an explicit statement of the general regularities they presuppose; and there seem to be at least two reasons which account for this: …

17. [1] “… the universal hypotheses in question frequently [are] ... familiar to everybody ...” • [2] “… it would often be very difficult to formulate the underlying assumptions explicitly ...” (47) • Sometimes the laws in question are statistical. • Usually historians only give “explanation sketches”. They need “filling out”. (48) – • Often the laws upon which historians rely come from other fields. (52)

18. §2. Laws and Complexity (Hayek 1967/1994; Scriven 1956/1994; McIntyre 1993/1994) • The social world is intrinsically too complex for laws. – Hayek

19. §2. Laws and Complexity (Hayek 1967/1994; Scriven 1956/1994; McIntyre 1993/1994) • The social world is intrinsically too complex for laws. – Hayek • The level of description of the social world that interests us is too complex for laws. – Scriven

20. §2. Laws and Complexity (Hayek 1967/1994; Scriven 1956/1994; McIntyre 1993/1994) • The social world is intrinsically too complex for laws. – Hayek • The level of description of the social world that interests us is too complex for laws. – Scriven • Why can’t we change the language and analysis • even at the level we are interested in? – McIntyre

21. Friedrich Hayek (1967/1994): • Inquiry is after recurring “patterns”.

22. Hayek (1967/1994): • Inquiry is after recurring “patterns”. • These can be more or less complex.

23. Hayek (1967/1994): • Inquiry is after recurring “patterns”. • These can be more or less complex. • Measure of complexity: • “... The minimum number of elements of which an instance of the pattern must consist in order to exhibit all the characteristic attributes of the class of patterns in question ...” (56)

24. Example: Ideal Gas Law • PV = nRT • P: pressure • V: volume • n: number of moles • R: constant • T: temperature in degrees Kelvin

25. Social phenomena are more complex than physical phenomena.

26. Social phenomena are more complex than physical phenomena. • Physics is not more advanced than social science: • “... physics has succeeded because it deals with phenomena which, in our sense, are simple. ...” (58)

27. Social phenomena are more complex than physical phenomena. • Physics is not more advanced than social science: • “... physics has succeeded because it deals with phenomena which, in our sense, are simple. ...” (58) • Laws? • “... the preceding considerations throw some doubt on the … view that the aim of theoretical science is to establish ‘laws’”. (66)

28. Michael Scriven (1956/1994): • “... simple laws will very rarely be found even under • the most idealized laboratory conditions.” (74)

29. Scriven (1956/1994): • “... simple laws will very rarely be found even under • the most idealized laboratory conditions.” (74) • Lack of success is due to: “the multiplicity of critical variables in the simplest interesting cases.” (74)

30. Scriven (1956/1994): • “... simple laws will very rarely be found even under • the most idealized laboratory conditions.” (74) • Lack of success is due to: “the multiplicity of critical variables in the simplest interesting cases.” (74) • The human being is enormously complex and “there can be no practical sense in which this element can • be reduced to simpler ones.” (75)

31. L. McIntyre (1993/1994): • Against Hayek: “... social phenomena are not complex as such, but only as described and defined at a given level of inquiry.” (132).

32. L. McIntyre (1993/1994): • Against Hayek: “... social phenomena are not complex as such, but only as described and defined at a given level of inquiry.” (132). • Against Scriven: “He treats it as if once we have chosen the level of our interest, we have also deter- mined all of the “natural kinds” that govern that level … • But … even at one level of interest there may be many different possible descriptions, categorizations, theories, distinctions, and vocabularies ...” (136)

33. §3. Reconstruction of Davidson’s “Psychology as Philosophy” (1974) Often presented as an argument against the possibility of laws in the social sciences …

34. [1] Main thesis: There can be no (strict causal) laws in (intentional) psychology.

35. [1] Main thesis: There can be no (strict causal) laws in (intentional) psychology. [2] Intentional mental states are mental states about, or of, real or imagined states of affairs; e.g. belief, desire, intention.

36. [3] Type versus token: He talks and talks and talks. Three types of words, six tokens. Tokens are spatio-temporal particulars.

37. [4] A classification of views on the mind-body problem: mind-body / \ monism dualism

38. [4] A classification of views on the mind-body problem: mind-body / \ monism dualism / \ materialism idealism

39. [4] A classification of views on the mind-body problem: mind-body / \ monism dualism / \ materialism idealism / \ type-m. token-m.

40. Mind-Body Identity Thesis Mental tokens = = = = = = = = = Physical Tokens are spatio-temporal particulars.

41. Token materialism: A≠ 1; B ≠ 2 … Mental type A Mental type B Mental tokens = = = = = = = = = Physical Physical type 1 Physical type 2

42. Type materialism: A= 1; B = 2 … Mental type A Mental type B Mental tokens = = = = = = = = = Physical Physical type 1 Physical type 2

43. Key argument for token- (and against type-) materialism: multiple realizability One and the same type of mental state can be realised in many different physical states of the brain.

44. [5] Psychological events (e.g. intentions) cause physical events (e.g. movements).

45. [5] Psychological events (e.g. intentions) cause physical events (e.g. movements). Psychological events (e.g. intentions) cause psychological events (e.g. thoughts).

46. [5] Psychological events (e.g. intentions) cause physical events (e.g. movements). Psychological events (e.g. intentions) cause psychological events (e.g. thoughts). Physical events cause physical events.

47. [5] Psychological events (e.g. intentions) cause physical events (e.g. movements). Psychological events (e.g. intentions) cause psychological events (e.g. thoughts). Physical events cause physical events. Physical events (e.g. earthquakes) cause psychological events (e.g. fear).

48. [6] “Singular causal statements ... Hume is right that they entail that there is a law.” (Davidson) Let a and b be tokens of types A and B respectively. The sentence Event token acauses event token b

49. [6] “Singular causal statements ... Hume is right that they entail that there is a law.” (Davidson) Let a and b be tokens of types A and B respectively. The sentence Event token acauses event token b entails the sentence Tokens of event type A and tokens of event type B are constantly conjoined.

50. [7]Strict causal lawsexist only in closed and deterministic systems. There are physical strict causal laws, since the physical realm is closed.* *At least for materialists – this argument is based upon materialist premises.