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Quotation of the Day…

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… is from page 141 of the 1975 collection of some of Harry Johnson [2]‘s essays, On Economics and Society [3]; specifically, it’s from Johnson’s 1975 article “Scholars as Public Adversaries: The Case of Economics”:

But the raw material of the social scientist is not nature but society; he has to draw his problems from events in society, of which many consist of public policy decisions and their consequences, and his task as a scientist is to develop general principles reliably governing the workings of society and elaborate on their applications to particular cases; and he has some obligations as a citizen or merely as a human being to feed some of his findings back into the social process.  It is thus difficult either to define what purity in social science would be, or how public policy participation could corrupt it, in the terms traditionally of for the natural sciences.

I would change only one word above – a change that I believe would better enhance Johnson’s meaning: I’d change “develop” to “discover” – as in “… his task as a scientist is to discover general principles reliably governing the workings of society.”

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