Single-Cause Theories

Thu, 20 Apr 1995 10:07:46 CST

phenomenon, the better. True, social science is yet to produce
compelling single-cause theories; but the same can be said, I am afraid,
for multiple-cause theories! I really fail to grasp the argument that
multiple-cause theories have some sort of inherent superiority. This
reminds me of the appallingly naive arguments social scientists
sometimes offer to the effect that because social reality appears so
"messy," so should our attempts to explain that reality. Messy
explanations are just symptoms that we don't understand something very
well at all. Elegant, beautiful, and clear explanations are syptoms, on
the other hand, that we are really getting somewhere. It is a false
consolation--an illusion--to imagine that social science's failure to
produce simple, powerful explanations is really some kind of success.
--Bob Graber