As individuals, economists can favor one economic policy over another without compromising their
scientific credentials if they keep their public and private roles distinct. Economists will say that if you
want economic result ER, then you ought to implement (or dismantle) economic policy EP. As
economists, however, they have nothing at all to say about the short- or long-term desirability of ER.
When, for example, Milton Friedman says, "We ought to have a more libertarian society," or if John
Kenneth Galbraith says, "We ought to have a more egalitarian society," neither is wearing his
This also holds for the political scientist with regard to political result PR or for the military scientist
with regard to military result MR. (There is, for example, no basis for imputing pro-Nazi sentiment to a
military game enthusiast simply because he can show how Germany might have won World War II
had its military forces implemented a different strategy or different tactics.) All three sciences
presuppose that human beings use means in order to achieve goals, but they prescind from
evaluating those goals.
Taking early-20th-century physics as the paradigm of science, however, the dominant philosophy of
science regards economics, military science, political science and other "social studies" as sciences
only by courtesy. According to that paradigm, "real" science presupposes materialism, mechanism,
and determinism and, as we all know, human action notoriously resists deterministic, mechanistic, or
materialistic interpretation. Sciences of human action can therefore be, at best, "soft," the insinuation
being that they're not really sciences. It may be, however, that some degree of self-determination
occurs, not only at the human level, but also at the organic, chemical, molecular, and even quantum
levels. It may be that the apparently deterministic laws of one level are in fact habit-like expressions
of a lower level's indeterministic, nonmechanistic, nonmaterial processes. If those things are so, and
there is evidence that they are, then that paradigm's days are numbered. It has been decomposing
over most of the last century, and one of the consequences may be the revelation of the so-called
"soft" sciences as holding the key to the unification of science.