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Social sciences, prediction in

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-R019-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved May 18, 2024, from

Article Summary

Prediction is important in science for two reasons. First human beings have a practical interest in knowing the future. Therefore, all science is potentially predictive in the sense that its results may be used as a basis for expectations. Second, a test of our beliefs is the truth of the predictions we can derive from them. In the social sciences, however, predictions are often supposed to create specific philosophical and methodological problems, the roots of which are the following: the phenomena studied in the social sciences are so complex and so interrelated that it is practically impossible to formulate law-like generalizations about them; human beings are supposed to possess free will; and the predictions may themselves modify the phenomena predicted.

Citing this article:
Lagerspetz, Eerik. Social sciences, prediction in, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-R019-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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