Deus Ex Machina (X8H1@MUSIC.STLAWU.EDU)
Tue, 30 Apr 1996 11:30:11 EST

Yesterday on the 29th of April somebody wrote that they believe "works
like this (Shapiro's work on Sociobiology) make Anthropology a science."
I have to respond with "WHAT!?!?!?" A science is defined by the method
researchers use to collect data and interpret it. In this case many
would call it scientific method. Physical anthro IS a science already.
Regarding the person responsible for the above qoute, I think its
Mr. Pearl, meant by "anthropology," he surely cannot be referencing all
the subfields of anthro and if this is not what he meant he should
specify the subfield he IS referencing. Anthropology includes a lot
more than just soc/cultural anthro. So I would hope that anyone on the
list who means cultural anthro would say exactly that, cultural anthro.
This continuing idea of the fusion of
phys. and cultural is, in my eyes, looney. Making the analogy to
medical science, suppose we got rid of all specializaed fields. Ask your
self what state medical science would be in? No one person can study
everything at a reasonly deep enough level to make it feasible. We have
specializations for a reason and I can see no advantage for a large
group of physical anthropologists in the union of the subfields. As far
as I can tell only soc/cult folks want it. Why do they wnat it? I have
no answers to this questions maybe someone else does? Anyway as I have

said before, if the manner in which soc/cult folks dominate this list,
and anthro in general is any indicator if the fields were united I see
the soc/cult folks destroying the phys. anthro field and driving its
practitioners into other departments and fields, as Ralph Holloway has
stated is already happening in many anthro depts.
You know maybe the problem is that many people these
days don't know anyhing about the philosophy of science or scientific
method or why they should know about it. A lot of this debate might
cease if many more did. I ask how can anyone make statements about
whether or not something is a science when I would bet that most who
are questioning science probably couldn't define it or even give the
first letter of the last name of the man who defined empirical scientifc
method in the first place. I dunno maybe I'm just "limited."

Matthew Joanis

"Those who desire to give up Freedom in order to gain Security,
will not have, nor do they deserve, either one."
-- Thomas Jefferson