Lecture 008

Weak Naturalism: It is possible to use natural science to investigate social phenomena.

Strong Naturalism: It is necessary to use natural science to investigate social phenomena.

Science in general:

P-T (Predictive Theory) naturalism: (string naturalism)

Logical positivism (logical empiricism): beyond scientific logic

Anti-positivism: reject ideas above

Little's believe: oppose to strong naturalism

in tool: theoretical constructs operate as organizing device

in law: no law

in prediction: not reliable

in evaluation: prediction is not accurate


  1. good to have categories? in terms of understanding and predicting.

  2. Goal of categorization: be able to make generalization

  3. therefore, it helps us to make prediction, being able to know the range of generalization, although may be inaccurate, but better than nothing

  4. it also help understanding an event

    • because it is easier to explain with categorization

I think categorization is essential to all science, because without categorization, there is no generalization. If a theory is not generalizable, there is no value, because without generalization, there exists no prediction.

  1. we should not expect prediction is social science, and cannot be empirically confirmed by prediction.

Little gives a consistent and coherent account on the issue of prediction and validation of social theories. Little argues that social science does use their theory to predict, but such prediction may only predict a statistical trend that has a high error (page 7), and due to such uncertainty, social theories are tested through individual sub-component of the theory using empirical data (page 8). To make sense of Little's argument, I assume that prediction using the theory as a whole will not generate meaningful results to validate the theory. Instead, social scientists tend to generate predictions using sub-claims of the theory that are more predictive in nature. To validate a social theory as a whole, therefore, is to validate sub-claims of the theory independently. Thus, I see Little's claim and reasoning consistent because although Little agrees that social theory needs empirical support, but such support differs from traditional empirical support used by physical science.

  1. is unity of science a good argument I view that as an intuition from empirical evidence (also says in the paragraph). I guess there is no formal way to prove that "unity of science" always hold?

  2. pluralism's argument valid?

  3. his view: because of diversity, a unified methodology is not achievable, therefore, not necessary.

Logically doesn't make sense. A better argument might be: since we can't make progress using unification, therefore we take a step back to at least make some progress.cmf

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