August 26, 2003


[Chapter 6]

Some Problems of Circular Reasoning in Social Science

[URL: CircularReasoning]

SECTIONS (& perhaps subsections):

            I          The Problem

            II         Its Origin in Hermetic Projects

                        A         The logical structure of an hermetic project

                        B         The sociological structure of an hermetic project

            III        The Treatment of Explanatory Error

            IV       Some Examples

                        A         “Human nature”

                        B         “Intelligence”

                        C         The “failure” of socialism

                        D         The “mental illness” of queers

                        E         Gender dichotomy

            V         Dialectical vs. Inductive/Deductive Logic


“Mainstream economics, in its positivistic and instrumental orientation, pretends to be principally concerned with discovering regularities and correlations within the economic order which might permit greater prediction and control of economic phenomena. However, its uncritical stance, combined with its pretense of ethical neutrality, has precluded attempts to differentiate those regularities and correlations representing invariant forms of social life from those which merely ‘express ideologically frozen relations of dependence that in principle can be transformed’ (Habermas 1971). Regularities which represent the ideological imprisonment of humans make predictions of social phenomena more likely. Indeed, the more firmly ideology is entrenched, the greater will be the predictive power. Such predictions can become powerful instruments for control and manipulation of society by the state or private centres of concentrated power.”

— Jon D. Wisman (1991) Footnote


I    The Problem



II    Its Origin in Hermetic Projects



A.  The logical structure of an hermetic project



B.  The sociological structure of an hermetic project

  ... and so it generally supports the ruling form of life, and is supported by people who benefit from that form of life.


III    The Treatment of Explanatory Error

The treatment of residual (“error”) variance as error or chaos instead of an insight into new meaning. Error can be dismissed, but if that represents the growing, transformative edge, then we miss everything. Residual variance is more than simply error variance.


IV    Some Examples



A.  “Human nature”

Notice the concrete example of my participation in the psych experiment at Rutgers, where my case was excluded because I didn’t respond within the framework the experimenter anticipated.

            Notice how people are unused to seeing anything but hostility in the face of disagreement (the “adversarial assumption”; the emphasis on winners & losers; the sports images generally), so the second-order criteria appear strange.


B.  “Intelligence” and “Survival of the Fittest”

[xx Take this from my paper, “‘Heritable Intelligence’”.]


C.  The “Failure” of Socialism

We do everything we can to destroy Cuba and the USSR, and then crow that “socialism doesn’t work”.


D.  The “Mental Illness” of Queers

We demonize gays, drive them into the closet, and then point to their consequent behavior as proving being gay is wrong. After all, did you have an easy time reaching emotional maturity around sex? Footnote Now imagine going through the same process, except with everyone saying you’re bad and/or with the fear of being attacked (emotionally or physically) and/or without being able to talk with anyone, even your peers.


E.  Gender Dichotomy

We assume that humans are either male or female—that gender is dichotomous, not continuous. Doctors then feel justified in changing babies’ genitals to conform to the dichotomous standard, thus reinforcing the assumption of the dichotomy.


V    Dialectical vs. Inductive/Deductive Logic

Solution to this reasoning to look at it dialectically?