A fortiori

(, )

The standard for what passes as scientific sociology is derived from classical physics, a model of natural science that is totally inappropriate for sociology. As a consequence, we pursue goals and use criteria for success that are harmful and counterproductive. Even those dismissing such efforts use the standards of physics as grounds for their objection. Although recognizing that no natural science can serve as an automatic template for our work, we suggest that Darwin's work on evolution provides a far more applicable model for linking theory and research since he dealt with obstacles far more similar to our own. This includes drawing rigorous conclusions based on observational data rather than true experiments; an ability to absorb enormous amounts of diverse data into a relatively simple system that did not include a large number of what we think of as independent variables; the absence of prediction as a standard for evaluating the adequacy of a theory; and the ability to use a theory that is incomplete in both the evidence that supports it and in its development. Other sciences are briefly cited as well, but the main emphasis is on the lessons that Darwin provides for social sciences such as sociology that obtain their evidence primarily from non-experimental sources.


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