Re: [asa] The ASA and Human-Social Sciences

From: Gregory Arago <>
Date: Thu Jan 01 2009 - 08:44:53 EST

I'm glad we are in agreement Rich. It is somewhat comforting to know that use of the term 'soft' is known to be perjorative sometimes, if used in a sense of hierarchy of authority over what counts as the most important knowledge. With today's 'economic situation/downturn/crisis' on everybody's lips, one would think that finding a way to involve this human-social arena might be a healthy endeavour for ASA. 

Rich wrote: "the discussion of economics often heads towards politics"
This is perhaps often the case in certain forums, but needn't be so, especially in a country with such a large private sector compared to the public sector. The field 'economics of science,' for example, would be fair game for discussion on the ASA list. If there are trained economists or those interested in the relationship between economics, science and faith it will be easier to avoid the slippery slide into political economy or even straight into politics, which is also a danger in the nearby field of sociology, especially for sociologies in countries which are more social democratic (such as Canada, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, etc.) than liberal or laissez-faire democratic. My first academic field was economics, so I am rather sensitive to the over-lapping and interaction between the human-social sciences.
There is a fine article by the French-Canadian sociologist and historian of science, Yves Gingras in Montreal about the (il)legitimacy of economics as a 'science' suitable for a Nobel prize in science. It is worth mentioning, of course, that Nobel prizes are also awarded for Peace and Literature, and not just for 'Sciences,' showing the importance of extra-scientific knowledge for understanding and appreciating our world. Likewise, the Templeton Prize for 'science and religion dialouge' or 'spiritual realities' needn't necessarily come from a natural scientist. E.g. the selection of Montreal philosopher Charles Taylor (2007).
Warm greetings for 2009!

--- On Thu, 1/1/09, Rich Blinne <> wrote:

From: Rich Blinne <>
Subject: Re: [asa] The ASA and the Soft Sciences
Cc: "asa" <>, "Randy Isaac" <>
Received: Thursday, January 1, 2009, 4:35 AM

On Dec 31, 2008, at 5:54 PM, John Walley wrote:

> I personally greatly enjoyed our discussions earlier about our current economic situation and I think as Christians we can do a lot of good with a faithful understanding and outlook of what is going on in our world including economics. Escpecially considering that the scriptures specifically states that God intervenes in history and politics through economics. And not to even mention the eschatological aspect of it as well.
I don't see how this would be off-topic for this list unless you only defined science as the physical or life sciences for example but I think that would be too narrow. I would welcome this continued discussion and agree that there is a lot of shared wisdom here that I would personally like to learn from.
> Thanks
> John

The problem is the discussion of economics often heads towards politics and I am just trying to be sensitive to others on the list who don't want this list to be a political forum. It does not reflect the opinion that I believe economics is not a proper scientific discipline nor that Christianity doesn't speak to the issue of economics. I agree with your point above and that's why we should be encouraging Christian economists to join our fellowship.

Rich Blinne
Member ASA
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Received on Thu Jan 1 08:45:48 2009

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