File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_1997/bhaskar.9708, message 10

Date: Tue, 05 Aug 1997 06:55:07 -0400
To: bhaskar-AT-jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU
Subject: Re: BHA: Non-experimental science (was "What must the ...")

Louis wrote:

>>>I don't know that we should declare that
>>>there are no causal explanations in that domain simply because they do not
>>>conform to the CR account gleaned from natural science.  I wonder how
>>>others feel about this matter.
>>Here's what I think is at stake here.  On your account we might have to
>>start with, say, Herb Blalock's empiricist account of causal explanation in
>>social science (which is actually a version of Humean-J.S. Mill causal
>>explanation) and ask if it conforms to the CR account of causal explanation
>>in experimental science.  The answer would be "no."  Does this mean CR does
>>not apply, or is Blalock full of -AT-$#^?
>I don't know what Blalock's account is, but I do not see why we might have
>to start with his account of the meaning of "causal explanation".  No gun
>is at my head, and I assume you are able to expose the error of his
>definition.  I am willing to concede that his fixed sense of that term is
>evil while your and Doug's fixed meaning is good.  I just find the idea of
>a fixed definition for such a term to be highly dubious.  And yes, my use
>of "fixed definition" is meant to turn some of RB's later views against you
>on this.  But I may be missing a finer point here.

Blalock's account is similar to Mill's.  E.g., A can cause B iff A preceeds
B, iff whenever A then B, etc.

Yes, of course we can point out the errors in Mill's account.  My question
is how can we use RTS for this?  It seems to me RTS basis its argument on
experimental science.  If we deem this irrelevant for a critique of
Blalock, then RTS becomes irrelevant too.

Let me put the question to you.  Given Blalock's empiricist reading of
causal explanation, how would you use RTS in a critique without relying on
the parts of its argument that depend on experimental practice?

Marshall Feldman, Associate Professor		      
Graduate Curriculum in Community Planning and Area Development	401/874-5953
The University of Rhode Island					401/874-5511 (FAX)
94 West Alumni Avenue, Suite 1; Kingston, RI 02881-0806

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