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Alfred de Grazia:


The Hatred of New Social Science

The Editor of ABS examines the range of attacks against behavioral science and finds them generally wanting in validity and balance. He suggests a typology of the "misosocioscientist" and asks for a continued controlled expansion of the social sciences, and improved relations with public policy.

Defending social science is much like defending one's political party. Neither is a Thing. It is scarcely a group of similar things. Indeed one would feel somewhat absurd about defending it if he did not himself often criticize it, thus helping to create an illusion that there is something to argue about.

Yet like the debate over the merits of a political party, an argument about social science has some value. It can isolate the core of meaning in the concept of social science. It can describe and illuminate a number of practices of social scientists that are individually important and susceptible to precise determination and evaluation. It can finally clear away many errors of thought and logic, exposing to the light various ideological phenomena of the age.

This is to be a defense, true, provoked by what seems to be an unusually large number of attacks against the social sciences. Even Playboy magazine has gotten into the fray with its last issue, presumably because you cannot be the Complete Wastrel without a kit of invective against behavioral scientists. An hatred of what social scientists are trying to do seems to be widespread. But our larger purpose here is constructive: What is the scope and limit of social science? What should our attitude be towards it?

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Old Classicists

The debate about the new social science has not been lucid, and the clash of armies by night is difficult to map. Taking them, not as they present their own arguments, but as their arguments may be analyzed, the attackers of social science offer contentions which may generally be divided into four group: One collection of arguments accuses the social sciences of sundry bad habits. A second series asserts the impossibility of a social science. A third claims that social science is insufficient to provide for the major human wishes. And a fourth argues the undesirability of social science, even if it may be possible. Per haps only after these several categories have been examined, can some understanding of the types of persons engaged in the attack upon social science be had, and only after that can some statements of what social science is, and what it can offer the world, be set forth.

The Bad Habits

Of Social Science

What is not ordinarily appreciated is that a number of accusations directed against the practices of social scientists have little to do with whether the science is possible or useful, but are really extraneous and irrelevant to these questions. In effect they say simply that social scientists have bad habits and should therefore be disbelieved and dismissed.

The Uncouth Sciences

For instance, in the writings of the misosocioscientist, as we shall call those who engage cordially in the assault upon social sciences, a feeling often prevails that the social science are coarse and vulgar, that they are uncultured.

Of course, no one expects mathematicians or natural scientists to be cultured in this sense and they are ignored, because here as in many other forms of argument, what oppresses the misosocioscientist most is that the social scientist pretends to study man. And so does the misosocioscientist. Almost all attacks by natural scientists on the social sciences fall into the category of their being impossible. The natural scientist is not bothered by bad habits of this kind because he may have them himself, nor is he concerned with the undesirable menaces of science, nor even of their insufficiency, because he knows these conditions only too well with regard to this own case.

By coarse and vulgar, the misosocioscientist means that social scientists are likely to have too little formal education in the classics, that they do not accord the required courtesies to the words of great men of the past. Since politeness to Kultur is found in even the most superficial, callow graduate student of one of the literary departments, the feeling against social scientists becomes almost a class sentiment. Of course, when you locate social scientists who have attended good liberal arts schools or whose fields require an awareness of the same materials as the critics are talking about, you find s social scientist who is not "coarse and vulgar."

The Use of Jargon

A second bad habit of social scientists is their poor style of writing. We speak here not of the logic or content but of the form, its elegance, the range of vocabulary, and the use of jargon. Science has a style of its own. If the prose communicates precisely what it is supposed to say, the style is good. That it may lack the niceties of expression sometimes found in oratory and literature does no damage to the work as science. In fact to engage in more than a minimum of such niceties would possibly damage its scientific integrity. Poetic license, a true preoccupation with the unique aspect of the subject under consideration, a play upon the meanings of words, a choice of words and styles for their rhythm rather than their logical meaning, are privileges of the poetic writer. As A. R. Heiserman in his new book, Sketches and Satire, declares: "Poets have little new to say; to say once again that love is painful, that power is ignorant, that God lives, and to say it movingly, they must constantly freshen and modify the conventions by which their predecessors moved men." In scientific writing, the same practice might be harmful. The need for constant meaning often leads a scientist to use the same words a number of ties; a sin by the cannons of science, where what would elsewhere be regarded as synonyms are unfortunately not synonymous enough.

What the misosocioscientist often fails also to appreciate is that the jargon of social science bothers the social science bothers the social scientist almost as much as the literati. In a recent comment on a collection of studies in modern organization theory, this writer declared: "The profuse flowering of terms is disturbing. There is here (as in learning theory in psychology, in political behavioral studies, and in other fields of social science?) a regrettable coinage of terms to stand for simple facts and categories, resulting in a second language (or as many languages as there are authors writing thus in partial isolation). Several of the writers might try to maintain the principle that, where their facts are not too dissimilar from other people's facts, they should repress the urge to call their facts by a different name, and they should reserve their coinage of terms for the critical phase of theoretical construction... We criticize the medieval philosophers for saying so many different things using the same words, but today our communications suffer because we use constantly different words in order to achieve precise meaning."

Not all social scientists coin new word. Unlike most psychologists, the economists rely often upon common sense words such as "profit," or "value." But only the most naive will believe that these words need no definition because they are common terms. They are defined in the work, or are used as the writer's clique has become habituated to using them, or they are used badly and criticized justly. The reader recalls more easily a known word such as customs, rather than a new word such as residues (Pareto), which is an advantage of reissuing old words in scientific treatises. On the other hand, the merit of the jargon is that it does not carry along with it the inevitable connotations worn by words such as "profit," even when those words are scientifically defined as they are used in a work.

The problem of jargon is partly in inevitable. Every science must use words precisely and constantly in equivalent senses. And there will be many jargons until a grand philosophy unites science, and provides the various sciences with their key words, their key problems their principle routines, and their principal classification. This master philosophy of science, which would probably have to be founded upon a master philosophy of life and ethics, would set up greatly desired bridge across the field of knowledge, always leaving, however, a residual set of problems an facts in every field to be dealt with the jargon of the field. To rail at jargon in its entirety, is stupid. To limit it, is wise. To recognize the universality of the problem wherever scientific knowledge and practice are present, is fair.


The social scientists are supposed have other bad habits. They are braggarts. Russell Kirk, a traditionalist social philosopher, wrote in The New York Times magazine of June 25, 19** an article of provocative title, "Is Social Science Scientific?" He reports,a young instructor in sociology declared to me, somewhat defiantly, "I really believe that we can teach everybody the scientific approach.'" Kirk says that emotionally the representative social scientist is a secular evangelist; Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., a liberal politician and historian, says in "The statistical Soldier," Partisan Review, August 1949, "The champions of `social science' today have hardly advance beyond Lester Ward or Comte in the grandiosity of their promises." He speaks of their "portentous and vague hints of mighty wartime achievements" and says they are "fanatical in their zeal and shameless in their claims." Again the critic subordinates what is said and done in the science of society to the mannerisms of the scientist. It is not nice to be enthusiastic or boastful.

The Aggressive

Social Scientist

And the social scientists tend to be pushy or aggressive. They "take over Says Schlesinger, "they persuaded panicked many university administration into giving their study top priority." He also says, "They have scored even more brilliant success with the foundations." And again he says, "`Social science' as a whole is perhaps doing no present harm, except as it engrosses money and energy which might be put more wisely to other uses." And Kirk says: "For the past two decades, the big foundations have poured hundred of millions of dollars into the social sciences. And, recently, the federal government began to subsidize social science research." The fact that the study of man, by the methods of science costs one-tenth or perhaps even one-hundredth of what goes into the natural sciences, and that most of our troubles originate in human relations, does not impress the misosocioscientist; often, if a humanist, he is too upset himself by the methodological inroads that social science is making into the residual and barren territories that the humanists occupy.


But then again, even while aggressive and all-devouring, social scientists are divided among themselves and are insecure. Kirk writes, "They are split into warring camps, the basis of their authority remains in question, and there lingers a certain public reluctance to grant them the respect they covet." Kirk likes to quote Sorokin against other social scientists. Schlesinger talks of the revolt of the new against the old sociologists, whereby they coin new terms for their disciplines, for example "social relations," in order to be free of the old. And of course every allegation of unscientific behavior made by one scientist against another brings gleeful shouts to some of the critics; never mind that the critics have just roundly trounced one of the accusers on some other grounds. Yet no one stops to think why the different scientists should have to agree with one another, why they should not be divided among themselves, why there should not be many controversies in all the many fields.


And not even fraud is beyond possibility among some social scientists. Schlesinger writes, "Too many obvious frauds were at last committed in the name of sociology," and later, "Its practitioners are in the state of alchemy, not of chemistry. Probably that is why they proclaim so loudly that they are on the verge of discovering the Philosopher's Stone." Presumably, finding no other way to get ahead, some social scientists mask themselves with jargon and legerdemain to gain intellectual status. That the same habits may be engaged in hy humanists, or natural scientists for that matter, does not seem to occur to the critics.


Some of the intimations of fraud result from the gap between promise and performance. That we shall talk about later when we discuss the subject of the insufficiency of the social sciences. Other intimations of fraud come from another "bad habit" that social scientists are likely to possess, that they are imitative of natural scientists. Actually there is nothing wrong with imitation in itself. Science is in part an administrative habit and a set of procedures. It belongs to the species of imitative institutions. A scientist follows the steps of other scientists. His hypotheses, it is true, may come from novel sources, and are then subjected to scientific discipline and tested in a number of fields until the limits of their coverage are reached. It is indeed the imitativeness of modern science that has been the key to its vast practical successes. Yet, not satisfied that almost all of life is covered with confusion in this age, the critics of social science claim to detest this imitativeness, which attempts to instill discipline into what have been chaotic areas of human thought.

In fact, the question of imitating the natural sciences is irrelevant and no social scientist should run from his task because of artificial or accidental resemblances between his work and the work of natural scientists. After all, the social scientist's work can and must be evaluated in terms of its own rules of procedure and findings, not on extraneous grounds. Insofar as the natural sciences enter into the social sciences, they must come by way of analogy and suggestive hypothesis.

Is Social Science Possible?

The argument over the natural science posture of social science leads directly into the search of substantial and permissible allegations against social science. One of these is that social science in some important sense is impossible. Or, say the critics, man is not an object as stable as those that the natural sciences treat. But let us put aside the latter part of this statement as being irrelevant, and merely address ourselves to the rightful question: Can we systematically understand, describe, predict and control human behavior? Many a critic of social science falls to pieces over this question. On the one hand they will assert that we are in danger of bing tyrannized, regimented, and subjected to the horrible world of Orwell's 1984 by the new social science. Almost in the same breath, they claim that man cannot be treated like natural objects but has within him eternal, incorruptible, unpredictable possibilities of choice. Schlesinger concludes an eloquent denunciation of devices of social science with the clause, "the whole happily subsidized by the foundations, carrying to triumphant completion their ancient hope of achieving the bureaucratization of American intellectual life." But then, in scornful reference to the work, The American Soldier, which he is reviewing, he reports that "we have a considerable distance to go before resigning ourselves to a regime of total manipulation."

Russell Kirk asserts that "human being are the least controllable, verifiable, law-obeying and predictable of subjects. If man were predictable, indeed, he would cease to be truly human. Andrew Hacker, of Cornell University, therefore writes forebodingly about `the specter of predictable man'--the man of the future whose coming so many behaviorists view complacently, the man of `Brave New Word.'" Such inherently contradictory utterances are not uncommon among the misosocioscientists. To understand them requires a depth psychology that penetrates the rigidity of a mind that is embraced in the panic-stricken grip of the soul.

The simple, clean premise, much more defensible, would be that some of the thousands of statements that comprise social science are very true, some not so true, some false, and some irrelevant. Why is it necessary to say that man is unpredictable, or that human relations are indomitable, when history holds millions of illustrations to the contrary, when every minute of all of our waking life depends upon predictability and control of human relations? Every institution of American life would collapse immediately if man's behavior were not predictable or controllable. Indeed man was a social scientist in a theoretical sense long before he was a physical scientist. And he was an applied scientist in both areas from the beginning of time. However, theoretical social science had to develop more slowly than natural science. The psychological obstacles to creating a systematic scientific corpus to be called social science happen to be very great and postpone, perhaps indefinitely, achieving the nice formality of statement that may be lent to the natural-science operations of making. I have elaborated this point in the Administrative Science Quarterly of December 1960 and March 1961 under the title, "The Science and Values of Administration."

De Natura and de Facto Possibility

There are two major bodies of argument against the possibility of a pure social science, meaning by pure social science simple validated statements about human relations. The one argues de natura against there being a pure science, the other de facto. The first attempts to demonstrate that man is by nature unpredictable and that laws of human relations cannot be devised, the second schools declares that such laws are theoretically, that is, naturally, possible, but they cannot be actually derived because of the prejudices of the observer and his involvement in the things he is observing. In recent years, the second school has superseded the first.

If we accept the statement "Few poor men have ever known how the rich live," we would offend the de natura school that maintains we could never validate this statement nor define our terms, nor enter into the mind of the poor and the ways of the rich; therefore we also could not make a prediction, to wit, that the poor of tomorrow will not know how the rich of tomorrow live. The de facto school might say that we could discover this statement, but if we did discover it, we would not be able to put it correctly, because we would be either rich or poor, and therefore incapable of objectively putting forward a statement about the relation.

Such sober and erudite critics of social science as Leo Strauss have taken up de facto position in criticizing, for example, the ideas of Max Weber concerning the possibility of objective knowledge of society. For instance, Strauss in his book, Natural Right and History, denies that fact and preference can be separated and demands therefore that social science be, in our language, a single policy science supplementing the natural law. I have commented upon this problem in "Fact and Value in Teaching," ABS, January 1960, and will deal with it here only by way of stating a proposition about such critics. These critics whish to say, really, that a constant danger in the study of man's relations is subjectivity, just a it is in other areas of science, an there will always be discoverable residue of distorted reality in the observations and proposition of social scientists. But the bulk of social science, moving forward as it does through the use of panels of authorities rather than by reliance upon the single observer and theorist, can overcome the effect of the principle of subjectivity to the point where achieves what may be called objectivity, or the collective subjectivity mankind, which, so far as we know, the ultimate objectivity of which may is capable in any area of science.

Applied Science

If pure science is to be made useful in human affairs, it must be a plied. The corpus of applied science is simply a pure scientific statement attached to a goal: In order achieve "A," do "X"; "To get more voters, keep the polls open longer Obviously applied social science every bit as possible as pure social science.

Insufficiency of the

Study of Man


Indeed what the critics usually mean when they talk about the in possibility of the social science, except for certain absurd arguments about the unpredictability of human nature (which are contradicted by ever day experience) and the impossibility of objectivity (which I have already addressed myself to) is the insufficiency of social science to do ever thing that people would like to have done with man. Again it is strange and contradictory, that some of the people who are most worried about the undesirable effects of social science, are also most prone to show how commonplace and trivial are the propositions of social science both true and applied. They do not bother to look into the hundreds of thousands of studies and articles turned out in natural science journals and books annually; the triviality of many of these may be attested to by other natural scientists, but these, not feeling guilty about the problem, no not worry about it nor make it Nemesis.

Nor do the critics ask themselves what they should think of the many years of work that Charles Darwin put into observing and describing the habits of a worm. Nor do they remember that Matthew Arnold said of Darwin in 1869, "Why it's all in Lucretius." And when a scientist replied: "Yes! :Lucretius guessed what Darwin proved," Arnold retorted, "Ah! That only shows how much greater Lucretius really was--for he divined a truth, which Darwin spent a life of labor in groping for."

It would seem that the critics must have their personal problems solved by social science, or else it does not exist. It is as if they had said: "Unless we can rotate the moon so that we may see both sides without disturbing its arrangement in relation to the earth, natural science does not exist." Or "Unless we can assure everyone that the sun will not ultimately burn out, we have no right to speak of the achievements of science." Nor, of course, do they take into account the fact that not every humanist is a Plato, and for sheer inconsequentiality, not to mention inaccuracy and incomprehensibility, the mass of materials on literary subjects that infests our libraries cannot find its match either in the social or the physical sciences.

Triviality is as pervasive and perennial as sin. A constant unending struggle must be maintained against it in all areas of life, including the social sciences. But to abolish science as we know it, for the history of science abounds in instances of the trivial becoming the important either immediately or in the long run, and the practices of scientists require an exercise of their logic upon the concrete, and the trivial are often joined by the bridge of tangibility and understandability. Furthermore society does not necessarily favor the important over the trivial, for the important tends to be controversial.

Indeed one should be most restrained in judging alleged triviality harshly. Why is it trivial to study the number of students who should normally occupy a fourth-grade schoolteacher's attention as opposed to the number who may normally occupy the attention of a fifth-grade teacher, but is not trivial to study whether the introduction of a certain chemical into the process of making nylon stockings may cause the stocking to wear a bit longer or wash less well? Yet the serious, prolonged, and expensive researches that a huge company may engage in with respect to the last are never questioned, except by an occasional stockholder who questions only their profitability, whereas many reproaches are directed at the educational type of study. It is at least possible in many cases that the epithet. "trivial" means: "Your are doing something that I feel consciously or unconsciously to be threatening."

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SYLLOGISM--Arriving at a preconceived idea can be a good trick.

That this illustration might be carried with Kir's article by the New York Times, an enlightened newspaper, indicates how wide must be the gulf that separates public understanding of the work of behavioral scientists from their actual ways of working.

Other "Insufficiencies"

Of Social Science

Aside from these considerations, social science propositions are often sufficient to satisfy a particular need because of the greatly complicated and varying nature of a specific human relation to which they must be applied. Any one of a hundred factors has a fair likelihood of varying in the circumstances, something that does not happen in most of the areas of applied natural science. For instance, insofar as the construction of a bridge is concerned, many things are considered, but few of them vary. but many things must be considered and most of them have some likelihood of varying, so far as the organizing of a group of people to accomplish a simple task is concerned. This does not mean that the variability of all of these things could not be accounted for, but that it would be impossible normally to state them all except in a complete report prepared in advance of each situation. For if one had to allow for the unending variance of all the factors inherent in a situation discussed, for example, in a textbook on administration, the book would become impossibly overburdened with repetition and detail. So it is left to the individual human applicator of social science to make most of the adjustments "by ear" as the many factors vary in the situation on which he is working, whereas the engineer may operate with much more confidence and go much more by the book.

Noncommittal Scientists

Now finally the social scientist may be regarded as trivial and inadequate for the task at hand because, when trying to be objective and to state the full set of conditions that determine a particular case, he will be reluctant to commit himself regarding the evaluation of the sides involved. He may consider it his obligation as a scientist to be neutral. Many a critic of social science, including some in the professions themselves, lack intellectual sphincter control. They want to be told what is good and what is bad immediately and without fail. They think: "What kind of a science is it, if it does not tell us what we should do?" Even when they know better and praise scientific objectivity, they harbor resentment and displace it by accusations of triviality. Those social scientists who succumb and let their style be infiltrated by pejoratives and exhortations, or who, when pressed, emit recommendations prematurely, are roundly belabored by their more restrained colleagues, with good reason, and by their antagonists in the outside world.

The Undesirability

Of Behavioral Science

Indeed it has become a matter of course for social science to be abused by the public both for not taking sides and for taking sides. As it has become more self-conscious and more effective, that is, more realizable as pure and applied science, and more sufficient unto its objectives, the question of its desirability as science has taken on larger stature. Some say it is evil to know man, even though it may be well to know the lesser animals and the natural world. Others say that whereas it may be good to know man, it is evil to apply one's knowledge of man, for that implies the manipulation of man, an evil greater than any other. And some say the danger comes from the evil of applying knowledge of man on a large scale. Still others say that it is bad to let social scientists control the destiny of men, either because the social scientists are bad in themselves, or because they are the pawns, willingly or unwillingly, of evil forces in society.

The Evil of Knowing

The doctrine that it is evil to know man is an ancient religious superstition that today has lost its grip, except on a few pessimistic thinkers who perhaps have more foresight than most of us. What they usually mean, however, is that they know man all too well, and their advice to all and sundry is not to know man any more and to turn our backs on human problems. In its more modern guise, the doctrine takes the form: "We known that man is unpredictable and therefore it is evil to preach that he is predictable." In another modern guise, it is an argument that we have already dealt with, the argument against the insufficiency of social science. That is: "We may think we know something, but we never really know anything, and human beings are terribly complex and mysterious, so we had just as well know nothing."

The Impossibility

Of Non-Control

There is no scientific argument to be directed against the belief that it is evil to apply one's knowledge of man for his control. Here all that can be said is of a practical nature. Man will be controlled by himself and by others. In whose name and toward what goals shall this control be exercised? Even if we abolished controls of all kinds over all adults, we should still have the problem of educating, that is, controlling youth to live in a society where no controls would be exercised. But this is fantastic.

Nor should we dally with the question of how much control should be exercised, or whether certain controls of science are good but large-scale controls are bad. These are questions for political ethics, vastly important, but beyond our purview here. Sufficient to say that we might take appropriate measures, using the instruments of state power, to repress scientific development along certain lines that tend to uncover certain kinds of controls, and focus upon other lines that would promote the discovery of controls that we would like. Thus it is that many social scientists, as even Russell Kirk would admit in a backhanded sort of way, have become preoccupied with the development and discovery of democratic types of control, as opposed the science of totalitarianism.

Social Scientists as Devils

But then a problem confronts which cannot be circumvented. The critics of social science are antagonistic to the notion that social scientists as a group (that they are really a loose aggregate is usually forgotten) would exercise social control, maintain that social scientists are undesirable controlling type. By contrast to the sterling qualities possessed by other segments of the population, such as businessmen, military leaders, churchmen, humanists, natural scientists, or politicians, social scientists are peculiarly unfit to exercise power. Inasmuch as it would be difficult to demonstrate this proposition by thoroughgoing, systematic study, the argument usually stops at a point where social scientists are regarded as impractical, liberal, or socialists.

Are They All Radicals?

A member of The New York The Magazine staff informed this author that a major reason for publishing Russell Kirk's article on social science was his known conservatism, for the magazine felt that it was publishing too many liberal writers. (I suppose that is why one encounters the works of Robert Moses so often in the magazine.) The choice reflected badly upon the magazine, but the decision is illuminating, for doubtless in a great many people's minds, social science is associated with socialism, and anti-social science with conservation. The bitter attacks against social science by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a "new liberal," and C. W. Mills, more a "socialist" than anything else, apparently have made little impression upon this stereotype. Neither Kirk nor others who share this view about the radicalism of social science seem to be aware of the fact that some of the outstanding figures of social science have been supporters of the status quo or reactionaries. Pareto, Mosca, Michels, Simmel, Sumner, and Spencer may be cited.

Social Scientists As Marginal Men

Russell Kirk claims that social scientists regard religious convictions as unscientific or irrational and look upon political conservatives as ignorant bigots. And then he quotes Raymond Aron, the French sociologist, to support his claim, that the typical American sociologist is liberal in part because "many stem from semi-marginal groups: first-generation American, Jews and natives of Central Europe," who "are more common among American sociologists than Back-Bay Bostonians." This poor-boy type of sociology is factually ludicrous, and laughable also for exemplifying how intellectuals like to call other intellectuals marginal. Kirk of course is not a marginal character, for he practices being a country squire on a Michigan farm and likes to live physically as well as mentally among the ruins of Scotch castles and Sicilian temples.

Social Scientists Enough

For All Parties

Kirk believes that radicalism is served. But C. Wright Mills believes that conservatism is served. So he argues in the Sociological Imagination. Neither is correct though they have their grains of truth, as always. Ideologically, as Paul Lazarsfeld has shown, there is considerable variance of attitude among subcategories of academicians. I should say also that it was about time that we administer a questionnaire (if I may be pardoned the expression) to a goodly sample of American social scientists, to find out whom they are serving in a direct vocational sense, including the magazines they write for and the companies they consult for.

Meanwhile, we may surmise that there is an ample supply of social scientists willing to apply their skills for practically any cause, and that there is little likelihood of social scientists becoming the ruling class of the new order. The giant corporations and the military forces can, as Mills asserts, find an ample supply of applied social scientists, but so can the CIO-AFL, the Socialist Party, the American Friends Service Committee and the NAACP. So can the Republicans, and the Democrats. And when one considers the quality of personnel who today must make decisions that should be based upon intelligence and systematic foresight, in the nation and its many groups, one may well hope that the supply of social scientists is greatly increased through the educational system, and that they be put to ever more used in the establishments of government, business, and politics.

Ignoring Scientists'


Faithful readers of the ABS will have received a social scientists's version of all the criticisms that have been voiced by the misosocioscientist, presented, however, in the perspective of a constructive social science. it is noteworthy that Kirk, while citing at least two passages from the ABS, failed to indicate that the ABS was the source not only of some of the social science that he dislikes or misunderstands, but also of constant and telling criticism along many of the lines that he broached. It is often the bane of the reformer to find his victim already in a state of repentance and reconstruction. The opposition must put the axe to the social scientists, all reason to the contrary notwithstanding.

Typology of


Whence comes this hatred of the new social science? Most attempts by social scientists to achieve a clear picture of types of character and personality in different orders of life have fallen short of their mark. The prolonged studies that created "the authoritarian character" reveal the problem. Each person, while true to a central configuration of traits, will usually have tow, three, or more different sublevels or overlapping clusters of traits belonging properly to other configurations. So any attempt without great study to place into categories the characters of those who habitually have flailed at social science will not be satisfactory. Yet we would see perhaps as many as six different types who satisfy major components of their character by attacking social science.

Believers in Absolute Good

The scholarly type presented by Leo Strauss, Hallowell, and sundry historians, political scientist, or philosophers, holds to a natural law position that somehow seems to him to destroy the possibility of social science. He maintains on the one hand the solidity of reality. What is, exists. What is, ought to be. Now it seems to this writer that there is little difference between the natural law social scientist and the positivistic one except that the natural law scholar ascribes ethical compulsion to the fundamentals of existence and human behavior. This, to the new social scientist, seems scientifically unacceptable, but more than that, apt to lead to as much trouble as the operational positivism of the social scientists. For the natural law position becomes often: "What is, ain't, but ought to be."

The Reformer-Evangelist

A second type of anti-social scientist is represented by C. Wight Mills and Bishop Sheen. This may be called the reformer-evangelist type, who is impatient with the insufficiencies of social science to solve all human problems, accuses it of triviality, fears that it may be converted to undesirable ends, and wish it to be their personal political social science, working smoothly and efficiently in the "right hands."

Competitive Power-Type

A third type of misosocioscientist is the competitive, rationalistic power type. Schlesinger might be classified here, along with the typical news paper publisher. They feel that power in practical affairs may be slipping away from the traditional practitioners of human science if the newer, more disciplined workers take over leading positions and are responsible for the authoritative product of the discipline. Objectivity is a fool's ploy for such as these. To them the question is, as it is to Machiavelli, not who is right, but who has the power.

Traditional Conservatives

Yet another type is the traditional conservative, as exemplified by Russell Kirk. Here social scientists are sensed as a kind of threatening new minority who will explode what there is of good in the past along with what is bad. These are most prone to talk about the bad habit of social scientists, the obverse of their practice of talking about the good habits of old. Edmund Burke, after all, wisely defended tradition simply on grounds that it was old, not that it was reasonable, and hated the Enlightenment and the new social scientists of England of the time, because they sought to destroy the old institutions and traditions.


Then there is the humanist-contemplative, who dislikes social scientists because they seem to be going somewhere and going in somewhat of a hurry. They are defenders of history for history's sake, or art for art's sake, of nothing for the sake of doing nothing. Sebastian de Grazia, who may be placed theoretically, if not practically, within this rubric, has shown that the Greek and Roman philosophers expressed this non-instrumental point of view quite well. A thing once discovered loses its charm; of its theoretical ramifications and practical applications is pointless.


Finally there is what might be called the rational-conservatives, who criticize applied social science because of its incapacity to achieve its objectives. In this group may be numbered several of the most productive social scientists. they gravely warn of the impossibility of man's acquiring a true knowledge of consequences of his planned actions. Here we would have Mosca, Pareto, Mises, Michels, and Hayek.

The Scope and Limits

Of Human Science

Facing this gamut of critics, the social scientist can offer the world and man substantial evidence that much of what the critics say is wrong or at least non-definitive of his role, and that there is a use and virtue in his function. Social science is engaged continually in the statement and verification of thousands of propositions, some of which are commonplace and trivial, but some of which are important, and social science has arrived at a position today where there is no area of human relations that cannot boast of a collection of them.

Beyond the principle--detailed or large as they may be, unverified or verified, useless or useful--lies the large area in which social science has contributed insight into the modern world. After a hundred years of the systematic development of the social sciences, a great many professional and ordinary people are in a position to understand what may be at the root of any human situation that they encounter. It is impossible for many living today to appreciate the paucity of hypotheses and the dearth of suggestions and insights that have been afforded most people in most ages of history. One of the leaders in the development of the new social science, Harold D. Lasswell, who has contributed salient techniques and instruments to several social sciences, has indeed asserted on occasion that the principal utility of the social sciences rests in stimulating the imagination of its students.

This enormous sensing ability and capacity has been acquired as a by-product of the mechanical old-fashioned scientific method of which the critics make much and which seems often to be stripped to the point of barrenness. However, it is perhaps a scientific achievement of greater value of beauty, like a delicious mushroom growing from a log. I put it to use daily in myriad instances both for understanding the universe, which is perhaps the best subject meaning of pure science, and in tackling the innumerable problems that confront man today, which is the core meaning of the concept of applied science. Moreover going to a more mechanistic, tangible level, no day goes by without the application of social science to new groups, new areas, new organizations, new operations.

It is true that, while contributing its insight and instruments, affording countless satisfactions of a material sort, and arranging many adjustments of conflicts, social science has been a constructive unifying factor in the ethics of the new society, in the contrary, and to a large extent consciously, it has contributed to the disorganization of society in the process of analyzing it. Yet, it is scarcely the fault of the social scientist that nobody in society was performing a compensatory function in the 19th or 20th centuries. Social science may have bred upon the chaos but it certainly could have done little about reordering it.

Here again is the dilemma of political science. As John Dewey and Harold Lasswell have put it, the social scientists of the new age, without losing their integrity and ability as scientists, must somehow work on policy-making problems to a much greater extent than heretofore. Although they are not the best judges of themselves and though they cannot as scientists judge men's ends, the social scientists should be peculiarly fitted by training, experience and mentality to studying solutions to great problems of an ethical and even religious order, such as peace, and charity that remain elusive to modern man.

Moreover, the changes occurring in the politists themselves make of them at one and the same time a group more vulnerable to extinction, because of their loss of traditional status and function, and a more fitting instrument for a radical movement that, in a flare of indignation, can infuse the ranks of politists and re-politize for a fleeting moment the arena of politics before it settles finally into a new bureaucratic civilization with a new elite.

Perhaps this theory of the transformation of the American public would be greatly changed were more evidence to be discovered. At this time, I should not hesitate to defend it against any alternative thesis about what is occurring in this day and age. Perhaps what we may agree on here is that the politics--that middle leadership aggregate of American politics, that group on which the politicians must depend in so many ways - are most fitting subjects for any researches that may presently be undertaken.

On the whole, because of the technical concerns of most researches in voting and electing, and because of the empirical and therefore theoretical incapacities of many who call themselves political philosophers, research in several vital areas of politics has concerned subject of small importance. The several areas that I have specifically mentioned here--the influence of opinions upon leaders identifications, perceptions, preference, persuasibility, and political activity are, in my opinion, not only of recent importance but also of increasing significance to democracy. In this terrain, and especially in the study of the leadership base of American society, the political scientist encounter the hardships, the strangeness and the terrors of a true reassured frontier. From such throes of research, the politician can certainly make many applications, but more importantly, he can form a model or the developing process of American democracy that can lend wisdom and security to his decisions.

Alfred de Grazia

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