RE: Real Science (was Re: serious)

From: Alexanian, Moorad <>
Date: Fri Jan 09 2004 - 19:20:14 EST

To the extent that economics can be based solely on mathematical concepts, then to that extent economics is a science very much like game theory or any other mathematical modeling. Of course, if notions that cannot be characterized operationally either mathematically or by physical instrumentation are invoked, then to that extent economics ceases to be a science like, say, physics.


Experimental psychology is based on physical data, but one may not be able to explain, say, what is hate based on blood pressure, heart beats, etc. In psychology, psychiatry, etc. what a human being is never clearly specified. Psychiatrists treat physical symptoms and need not assume the existence of non-physical entities like soul/spirit. One treats humans as rational animals. Of course, there may be, say, Christians who practice such fields and, of course, their view may differ considerably from the usual school of psychology/psychiatry.


As one goes further into political and social studies, the departure from experimental science increases to the point, that the notion of what a human being comes into play and there the use of physical devices becomes of limited value if not useless.




        -----Original Message-----
        From: Dr. Blake Nelson []
        Sent: Thu 1/8/2004 11:20 PM
        To: Alexanian, Moorad
        Cc: ASA
        Subject: RE: Real Science (was Re: serious)

        Although I am loathe to continue this line of
        discussion much farther, a lot of economic data is
        recorded by purely mechanical devices and one does not
        need any concepts or thought to count up how much
        money is borrowed, how much consumers spend for X, Y,
        or Z, etc.
        So even accepting the distinction, it breaks down on
        lots of economic data. It also breaks down in many
        areas of experimental psychology where purely physical
        devices records all sorts of physical responses. It
        breaks down in political science in many respects when
        one looks at voting behavior, or political economy,
        where one does not always analyze survey data about
        voting. In addition, anywhere behavioralism has
        touched social sciences (which is almost everywhere),
        e.g., political science, psychology, sociology, etc.
        there are purely mechanical devices recording purely
        physical things, however you want to define it every
        bit as much as in physics. But, I won't belabor the
        point further. Perhaps, the misunderstanding stems
        from not really knowing what a large swath of social
        scientists actually do?
        --- "Alexanian, Moorad" <> wrote:
> Not quite! It is true that all sorts of verbal
> questions can be so asked but one must dwell on the
> concepts and notions used in the questions. For
> instance, if one asks “Does Jane love Tarzan?”
> and the answer is “Yes,” the problem is that
> Jane, Tarzan, and love cannot be characterized by
> purely physical devices. Physics questions are all
> characterized by terms that a purely physical in
> nature and thus amenable to measurements by purely
> physical devices.
> Moorad
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Glenn Morton []
> Sent: Thu 1/8/2004 8:58 PM
> To: Alexanian, Moorad; John W Burgeson
> Cc:
> Subject: RE: Real Science (was Re: serious)
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From:
> []On
> > Behalf Of Alexanian, Moorad
> > Sent: Thursday, January 08, 2004 3:50 PM
> > To: John W Burgeson
> > Cc:
> > Subject: RE: Real Science (was Re: serious)
> >
> >
> > If the data that makes up the subject matter in
> the social
> > sciences could, in principle, be all collected by
> purely physical
> > devices, then social science can be totally
> reduced to physics. I
> > do not believe the latter. Social sciences must
> include aspects
> > of reality that are non-physical. Ergo my
> comment. I do not know
> > about Peter Berger---just looked him up in
> google. My comment is
> > so obvious that I do not know how to convince
> you.
> >
> If one developed a computer program to ask verbal
> questions and thus perform a survey and then do
> voice print analysis to understand what the response
> was, social science data can be collected via
> machine, which is a purely physical device. Does
> that make it reducible to physics? I wouldn't think
> so. But the technology to do what I say above is
> here and now.
        Do you Yahoo!?
        Yahoo! Hotjobs: Enter the "Signing Bonus" Sweepstakes
Received on Fri Jan 9 19:20:38 2004

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Fri Jan 09 2004 - 19:20:39 EST