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At the Foot of the Evidence: Some Thoughts on Rationality, Values, Scientific Knowledge and the Social Sciences,
RAND CORP SANTA MONICA CALIF
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This paper concerns the twin philosophical problems of knowing and valuing in an effort to answer two questions 1 How do personal belief systems, models and expectations influence our perception and description of events and processes, and 2 What is the relationship between knowing and valuing and what should we do about it. Social scientists, both students and professionals, have had difficulty coming to grips with what Ernest Becker called the tragic paradox of social science How is the ethical, evaluative person to be made congruent with the careful, scientifically responsible researcher. The views of three philosophers and social scientists who have contributed important insights toward the solution of this problem--Ernest Becker, Gunnar Myrdal and Marjorie Grene--are taken up. T. C. Chamberlins practical method of multiple working hypotheses, developed in the late nineteenth century for use in geological investigation, is shown to be applicable to social science an example from the recent history of population ecology demonstrates its utility for biologists as well.
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