The Influence of the Natural Sciences on the Social Sciences

Edited by Bruce Caldwell

in Studies on the Abuse and Decline of Reason

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780226321097
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226321127 | DOI:
The Influence of the Natural Sciences on the Social Sciences

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  • History of Economic Thought


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During the first half of the nineteenth century, a new attitude made its appearance. The term “science” came more and more to be confined to the physical and biological disciplines, which at the same time began to claim for themselves a special rigorousness and certainty that distinguished them from all others. The methods that scientists or men fascinated by the natural sciences have so often tried to force upon the social sciences were not always necessarily those which the scientists in fact followed in their own field, but rather those which they believed that they employed. The history of this influence, the channels through which it operated, and the direction in which it affected social developments, are discussed throughout the series of historical studies to which the present chapter is designed to serve as an introduction. The chapter attempts to describe its general characteristics and the nature of the problems to which the unwarranted and unfortunate extensions of the habits of thought of the physical and biological sciences have given rise.

Keywords: social problem; science; natural science; social phenomena; social interactions; positivists; social behavior; human behavior; economic planning

Chapter.  2342 words. 

Subjects: History of Economic Thought

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