By W. H. Auden
Viking ebook of Aphorisms: a private choice
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Additional info for Viking Book of Aphorisms.. A Personal Selection
Their convictions about the unity of the sciences and the progressive nature of scientific inquiry have had a profound influence upon subsequent developments in the social sciences. Their contention that empiricism constituted the sole method for the acquisition of knowledge remained largely unchallenged among social scientists for two centuries. The individualist premisses that undergird their work have shaped the intellectual investigations and the political aspirations of subsequent generations.
The practical judgement of the practitioners in particular fields of science is exercised in weighing the evidence, replicating experiments, examining computations, investigating the applicability of innovative methods, assessing the potential of new concepts and considering the validity of particular conclusions. Through a 21 INTRODUCTION process of deliberation and debate, a consensus emerges among researchers within a discipline concerning what will be taken as the valid theory. The choice is sustained by reasons which can be articulated and advanced as proof of the inadequacy of alternative interpretations.
Towards that end, the following section will explicate and critique the positivist and Popperian conceptions of science that have profoundly influenced the recent practice of political science. An alternative conception of science will then be 8 THE SCIENCE OF POLITICS AND THE POLITICS OF SCIENCE advanced and its implications for the understanding of politics and for the structure of this encyclopedia will be explored. Although such an excursion into the philosophy of science may at first appear far removed from the central concerns of political scientists, a clear understanding of the assumptions about science that inform disciplinary practices is important for a variety of reasons.