21.185 prediction and explanation

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 07:30:14 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 21, No. 185.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: "Hunsucker, R.L." <R.L.Hunsucker_at_uva.nl> (24)
         Subject: RE: 21.182 prediction and explanation

   [2] From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk> (22)
         Subject: prediction and explanation

         Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 07:08:35 +0100
         From: "Hunsucker, R.L." <R.L.Hunsucker_at_uva.nl>
         Subject: RE: 21.182 prediction and explanation



This is a very tricky area, certainly for a non-philosopher-of-science
like me.

I enjoyed Suzana's interesting reaction, and really dare not put
forward any comments of my own.

Still -- it occurred to me that if one's really interested in exploring
the whole matter further, one would do well to have look at all
the (in my opinion sensible) stuff Mary Hesse has written, since
the sixties, on explanation and prediction. A good start might be
her _Revolutions and reconstructions in the philosophy of science_,
a collection published in 1980.

Just a friendly suggestion. I'm sure that others better enlightened
than myself can offer more targeted ones.

Regarding sociology and economics, one could have a look at the
recent (and fairly technical) :

Michael Hechter, Hyojoung Kim and Justin Baer, "Prediction versus
explanation in the measurement of values", _European sociological
review_ 21.2 (2005), p.91-108.

- Laval Hunsucker
    UvAmsterdam, Universiteitsbibliotheek / Geesteswetenschappen

         Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2007 07:09:23 +0100
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: prediction and explanation

It's good to know that social scientists have given up imitating the
natural scientists in their procedures and theory-building, as Suzana
Sukovic notes in Humanist 21.171, and esp good to have the reference
to Denzin's notion of "thick description" (taken from Clifford
Geertz, I assume). But my point was that an understanding of how the
terms "prediction" and "description" play out across the disciplines,
beginning with physics, proceeding on to biology (where my sights are
currently fixed), medicine, the social sciences and then the
humanities, is helpful not only to correct or clarify the claims some
computing humanists may make but also to work out where humanities
computing fits in, from whom it might borrow, what comes along with
borrowed vocabulary, ideas and methods and how to adapt these
borrowed intellectual goods. The history of disciplines shows again
and again how new ones establish themselves by borrowing, then
adapting. We're doing it in any case. How much better if we do what
we do consciously, critically, judiciously.



Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities Computing | Centre for
Computing in the Humanities | King's College London |
http://staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/. Et sic in infinitum (Fludd 1617, p. 26).
Received on Mon Jul 30 2007 - 02:45:49 EDT

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