Boundaries of Competence: How Social Studies Makes Feeble by Gwynne Nettler

By Gwynne Nettler

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Extra resources for Boundaries of Competence: How Social Studies Makes Feeble Science

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The American philosopher Willard Quine claims that “belief” must refer to propositions that “a reasonable person” holds to be true. ”44 Quine wins his argument by begging the question. He does so by appealing to the undefined qualifier, “the reasonable person,” an abstraction whom we regularly meet in courts of law. ” And more than that, to appreciate others’ reasons. One conceivable test of this ability, and yet a difficult test, applies “the Rapoport debate” (after its inventor, Anatol Rapoport, 1974).

8). ” It does not deny the frequent value of this shorthand style of explanation to suggest its limitations. At minimum, it quiets curiosity. For the human performer, sets of acts called ‘believing” are medleys of utterances and other behaviors. 42 With the talking animal, a conjunction of “right” symbol-use and other actions is required before we attribute “believing” to actors. ” We hesitate in this employment not only because Homo sapiens and other creatures act deceptively at times, but also because the human actor is a babbler.

Sensible people, but not concerned ones, are able to recognize these queries as complaints. They are not empirical questions. If individuals respond to such expressions with words, as the talking creature is prone to do, the responsive words constitute reasons, but they probably do not describe causes, and they regularly fail to satisfy inquisitors. Similarly, many verbalizations, formed as questions, ask for no facts. They are lamentations: ! ” Literate auditors understand that such utterances are not empirical questions.

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