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Controversies and Decisions

Controversies and Decisions: The Social Sciences and Public Policy

Edited by Charles Frankel
Copyright Date: 1976
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 312
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  • Book Info
    Controversies and Decisions
    Book Description:

    Explores the various aspects of recent debates over the independence of the social sciences. The contributors are Kenneth E. Boulding, Harvey Brooks, Jonathan R. Cole, Stephen Cole, Lee J. Cronbach, Paul Doty, Yaron Ezrahi, Charles Frankel, H. Field Haviland, Hugh Hawkins, Harry G. Johnson, Robert Nisbet, Nicholas Rescher, Edward Shils, and Adam Yarmolinksy. The essays deal with such topics as the relation of "values" to "facts" in social science inquiry; the interplay of theoretical and practical considerations; the moral obligations of social science investigators in political contexts; and the ways and means of protecting and advancing the autonomy of the social sciences.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-117-9
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
    Charles Frankel
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-8)
    Charles Frankel

    For most of its history American social science has been comparatively free of the kind of concern that is conspicuous in the social inquiries conducted in countries where there is the memory of a single established religion that has dominated education and politics. In such countries people tend to see, in the background of all social issues, fundamental choices between godliness and godlessness, order and progress, idealism and materialism, the classes and the masses. Every problem, no matter how narrow, tends to become vested with transcendent meaning; every disagreement, no matter how compromisable it may be in its own terms,...

  5. The Autonomy of the Social Sciences
    (pp. 9-30)
    Charles Frankel

    Most social scientists understandably welcome the public attention, which, for the last two decades or so, has been paid to them and their works. The world has changed: Gone are the days when corporation executives showed how smart they were by expressing their scorn for long-haired “experts” who had never met a payroll. Today civic bodies call on social scientists to recite on the cause and cure of ailments ranging from the insecurity of nations to the reading problems of children, and the standard operating procedure for people who make important decisions, whether in banks or labor unions, is to...

  6. The Role of Values in Social Science Research
    (pp. 31-54)
    Nicholas Rescher

    The ramifications of the fact-value distinction within the social sciences move in two major directions. On the one hand lies the issue of the status of values as targets of social science research and in particular the question of whether the social scientist is in a position not simply to study the values held by others but also to invoke values himself, to do some actual evaluating of his own with respect to his objects of investigation. On the other hand lies the issue of the status of values not as targets of research but as operative factors in the...

  7. The Reward System of the Social Sciences
    (pp. 55-88)
    Jonathan R. Cole and Stephen Cole

    For the past eight years, we have been conducting a series of studies of the social organization of contemporary American science.¹ These studies have concentrated on the problem of social stratification in science, and particularly on the processes by which scientists achieve high status and on the consequences for scientists of occupying varying levels in the stratification system. We have been concerned primarily with the degree to which the reward system of science is universalistic. In such a reward system, scientists will be evaluated solely on the basis of their scientific role performance. Since the primary goal of science is...

  8. The Ideal of Objectivity among American Social Scientists in the Era of Professionalization, 1876–1916
    (pp. 89-102)
    Hugh Hawkins

    The last quarter of the nineteenth century in the United States saw the rise of modern universities, the creation of specialized professional organizations for scholars, and the emergence as separate disciplines of fields once largely united under the rubric “moral philosophy.”* The universities responded to demands of a newly industrialized nation, fulfilled long-cherished ideas of the importance of learning, and were part of a nationalistic drive to establish institutions as advanced as any in Europe. The mood of the new universities was one of uncertainty overlaid by brashness, of eagerness to imitate European scholars, especially Germans, and of isolated specialists...

  9. Max Weber and the Roots of Academic Freedom
    (pp. 103-122)
    Robert Nisbet

    It is a truism that we learn from history chiefly to the extent that we take to history questions shaped in substantial degree by the issues of our own day. History is no seamless web, no iron genealogy. It is, properly regarded, a vast, almost infinitely diverse, collection of human experiences of every kind: political, social, moral, economic, and intellectual. Uniqueness and concreteness may at first sight seem to be the overriding characteristics of each of these experiences in the past. Second thought is more likely to tell us that within these diverse experiences are to be found attributes with...

  10. Five Decades of Public Controversy Over Mental Testing
    (pp. 123-148)
    Lee J. Cronbach

    As the United States mobilized for war in the spring of 1917, Professor Lewis M. Terman of Stanford University filled a briefcase with materials on the group intelligence test his student Arthur Otis had just designed and went East to meet with the other leading psychologists of the time. Within weeks they had organized the Army Alpha Examination for use in testing recruits. Their short mental test did indeed locate men who made satisfactory officers and noncoms. Delighted with this achievement, the psychologists then pressed for civilian testing.

    “Teachers must learn to use tests,” said Terman. Otherwise, “the universal grading...

  11. The Jensen Controversy: A Study in the Ethics and Politics of Knowledge in Democracy
    (pp. 149-170)
    Yaron Ezrahi

    With the evolution of science as a cooperative institutionalized enterprise in the modern society, the scientific community has confronted conflicting cultural demands. On the one hand, it has had to defend and justify the claims that science is politically neutral, that it advances universally valid knowledge, and that it is objective; and. on the other hand, it has had to legitimate and mobilize support for the scientific enterprise within a particular culture and political system.

    The specific ways in which scientists have encountered and coped with such conflicting demands naturally tend to vary in different types of societies. In the...

  12. Scholars as Public Adversaries: The Case of Economics
    (pp. 171-184)
    Harry G. Johnson

    In his letter of invitation to participate in this study, the editor of this volume, Charles Frankel, wrote:

    Unlike other social sciences, economics has achieved—or so it seems to the outsider—a working etiquette which allows people to disagree vigorously without engaging in recrimination about “unscientific” or “unprofessional” behavior. Moreover, the educated public seems well accustomed to the expectation that economists will disagree, and yet the status of economics as probably the hardest of the hard social sciences is unchallenged. How has this happened? What lessons, if any, can be drawn that might illuminate the situation in other social...

  13. Science Advising and the ABM Debate
    (pp. 185-204)
    Paul Doty

    With the signing of the treaty limiting anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems, in Moscow in May 1972, the decade-long ABM debate came to an end. It had its roots in the 1959 decision of Neil McElroy, then secretary of defense, to make the Army responsible for missile defense. Many talented and dedicated officers were thereby committed to this mission. Since it was the only license the Army had in the new dimension of space, it was certain to be pursued with alacrity. Despite the growing opposition of many technical experts in responsible government positions and on scientific advisory councils, successive systems...

  14. Scholarly Rights and Political Morality
    (pp. 205-218)
    Kenneth E. Boulding

    A famous exhortation of the Quakers is that Friends should “speak truth to power.”¹ Many of them followed this advice, according to their lights, with considerable energy and often at considerable cost. Indeed, the visits of earnest Quakers “under concern” to crowned heads, presidents, and other powerful people make a fascinating little chapter, or perhaps no more than a footnote, in the history of the last three hundred years. George Fox himself delivered the truth, as he saw it, to Oliver Cromwell, and William Penn to Charles II. A servant girl, Mary Fisher, even visited the sultan of Turkey and...

  15. Federal-Academic Relations in Social Science Research
    (pp. 219-234)
    H. Field Haviland

    Since mankind is the reason for, and principal resource of, government, no area of governmental-academic interaction would seem to be more significant than the study of human behavior. Yet this is one of the weakest sectors of public-private research collaboration. Both sides are inadequately oriented, structured, staffed, and linked in order to plan and administer strategies of social science research relevant to public needs. The limited progress that has been made has been dominated more by crash responses to traumatic crises—particularly wars (hot or cold) and economic calamities—than by careful advance planning geared to more balanced long-range development....

  16. The Federal Government and the Autonomy of Scholarship
    (pp. 235-258)
    Harvey Brooks

    The concept of scholarly autonomy is derived from nineteenth-century liberal ideas; its origins and original meanings are well described in the chapter by Robert Nisbet entitled “Max Weber and the Roots of Academic Freedom” in this volume.¹ Perhaps its purest ideological expression was given by M. Polanyi in “The Republic of Science.” This “liberal model” of science is summarized by J.J. Salomon, who characterizes it as an assertion of “the blind duty of society towards science, without any counterpart duty on the side of science except the truth.”² The scientific system is a kind of “intellectual marketplace” analogous to the...

  17. How Good Was the Answer? How Good Was the Question?
    (pp. 259-272)
    Adam Yarmolinsky

    In the course of six-and-a-half years of government service in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, I sought and received a good deal of scholarly advice on a wide range of subject matter from the nature of the problem of poverty in the United States to the anticipated consequences of France’s withdrawal from the NATO military structure.

    Despite the range of this advice, there were many more opportunities to seek scholarly advice neglected than exploited, and the advice was often less than fully useful. Difficulties arose on both sides, but at least as much in the governmental as in the scholarly...

  18. Legitimating the Social Sciences: Meeting the Challenges to Objectivity and Integrity
    (pp. 273-290)
    Edward Shils

    The effort to establish the legitimacy of the truthful study of society has a long and distinguished history. In the ancient Greek world, historians pondered the reliability of the various sources of information available to them; they were concerned with finding and asserting the truth as distinct from myths and legends. The task was taken up again in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by natural scientists who sought to demonstrate the superiority of inductive methods to speculative and ratiocinative procedures. The social sciences emerged as part of the movement to establish a reliable method of truthfully understanding the universe and...

  19. Index
    (pp. 291-299)