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Nisbit (1980) argued that a key characteristic of modernism was an idea of a
progressive science. Progressive is a normative word. It implies either
(1) a positive expansion of scope or (2) a scope that is increasingly
correct or "true".
Does any social scientist with broad-based training really fear physicist's
contribution on (2)? I can't imagine.
A contribution on (1) seems like a pure good for everyone. A contribution
on (2) is only a threat if you believe there is a limited set of possible
contributions toward getting closer to "true" and that physicists or
mathematicians (or post-modern literary critics, etc.) are somehow better
positioned than anyone else to get the limited few possible answers first.
Or, that some answers are more important than others--namely those that are
purer math models.
A great deal of current thinking in economics seems to be moving sharply
away from purer model-based approaches to behavioral approaches (Thaler,
Kahneman, etc.) If that trend held in social networks, sociologists,
psychologists, etc. would seem to be in a better position for glory.
Ryan L. Lanham
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