Monday, September 01, 2014

The Many Worlds Theory of Inquiry

Noah Smith has an excellent piece in BloomburgViews on the fact that economics is neither a science nor literature.The latter may seem obvious to most, but the former is less than obvious to almost everyone. But economics -- indeed, none of the social sciences -- are sciences in the sense that physics, chemistry, or biology are. Those who have tried to make it a natural science have misled the field -- to the detriment of the field as a whole, and to a those peoples negatively affected by the social policies influenced by a field so misled.

But Smith does not go far enough.

First, as I already indicated, he leaves out the other social sciences. All of the social sciences should have similar methods of inquiry. Similar, but not the same, in the same way that biology uses similar, but not always the same methods as chemistry.

Second, there are more divisions than science, social science, and literature. Literature should include the arts as a whole. And they should be separated from other humanities, like philosophy (which has its own methods of inquiry). And math should equally be separated out from all of these. It is its own realm of inquiry.

But note that one can and should dip into different fields. The natural sciences require math; so do the social sciences, though less so (and in different ways). Literary studies require the social sciences and psychology (a realm between the social sciences and the natural sciences -- something we can also expect to find) and philosophy.

There are not just two worlds. There are many worlds. But these many worlds are quite interdependent on each other.
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