Thursday, July 10, 2014

ESSP vs. Scientism

Epistemological skepticism about social phenomena is the view that social phenomena is so complicated that to believe we (that is, social scientists) can discover predictable laws governing human social interactions is naive at best.  To believe that we can is to leap into the land of scientism (a land OLS has posted on here and here).  Austrian economist Arnold Kling had an interesting post on this topic at the economics blog EconLog; here's an excerpt to entice you to read this excellent article:
Examples of scientism in economics include Marxism, Keynesianism, and most recently, Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century.2 A scientistic epistemology seems to correlate with an ideology of centralized social control. In practice, Marxism has been totalitarian. Keynesianism has been used to justify major expansions in the size and scope of government. And Piketty advocates a tax on wealth imposed at a global level.

In contrast, those of us with ESSP are less likely to believe in sweeping policies imposed by government. We doubt the reliability of the social science that is invoked to justify such policies.
If you have a philosophical bent and an interest in economics, this is definitely an article for you.[ht: Don Boudreaux]