One way to think about what makes *social* science distinct is that it is trying to study subjects, not objects. Subjects have feelings, opinions, and values, which are often hard to observe and even harder to measure. Subjects’ behaviour is also often endogenous to being studied. For example, the ‘shy conservative’ phenomenon refers to the observation that people often lie about their right wing and traditionalist beliefs when responding to political polling. Finally, subjects are embedded in social structures that they both create and are created by. And those structures change rapidly! Talk about a hard challenge. One thing holding social science back is the shallow understanding of the philosophy of social science among social scientists. Well ePODstemology strives to be different! This week’s guest is Dr Cristian Larroulet Philippi from the University of Cambridge, who joins regular host Dr Mark Fabian from the University of Warwick to discuss the challenges of measuring the human. A key theme of the episode is that ‘physics envy’ is a poor way for social to proceed, but perhaps seismology provides a better template?
Cristian’s webpage: https://www.hps.cam.ac.uk/directory/larrouletphilippi
Some background on Kitcher: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_Kitcher
More information on life satisfaction scales: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10902-021-00460-8
Depression scales: https://www.apa.org/depression-guideline/assessment
Inventing temperature (the history of thermometers) by Ha-Sook Chang: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/inventing-temperature-9780195337389
Eran Tal on measurement: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/measurement-science/