Is the Case for Social Science Laws Strengthening?
Authors: Beed, Clive; Beed, Cara
Source: Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, Volume 30, Number 2, June 2000 , pp. 131-153(23)
Abstract:The effectiveness of Kincaid's (1996) and McIntyre's (1996) cases for the possibility and actual existence of laws in social science is evaluated. The ways in which Kincaid and McIntyre argue against the confounding effects of four long-recognised barriers to the existence of social science laws are assessed. A brief review is presented first of definitions of causal (rather than regularity) laws. The four obstacles undermining causal laws are the non natural or social kind nature of the entities with which social science deals, the nature of mechanisms in social explanation, domain restrictions applying to causal explanation in social science, and the openness of the human systems encompassing socio-economic behaviour. Against the arguments of Kincaid and McIntyre, these four issues constitute fundamental a priori problems that continue to undermine the development of laws in social science, beyond those that can be derived by common sense, and that are potentially effective for policy-making.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2000-06-01