Re: Anthropology and Prediction

Mark A. Nadler (mnadler@ASHLAND.EDU)
Sat, 9 Sep 1995 22:51:16 -0400

I have followed the list's discussion on prediction with great interest
given my training in neo-classical economics. Neo-classical economics
has no explanatory power. All of its energies are focused on
prediction. This school follows an instrumental approach to modeling and
theorizing. How has all of this worked out? My sense is that more and
more economists are unhappy with this school. The feeling is that
neo-classical economics doesn't do a very good job in predicting.

My experience in reading the anthropological literature is that it does
a very good job in providing understanding, insights, etc. into the
real world. I found this refreshing coming from the austerity of
neo-classical theory. Does anthropology do an okay job in its
predicting? I don't think so. But I don't know of any
social science that does an okay job in its predicting.

I wonder if in the human sciences we're not asking for the impossible
by searching for a single framework that both explains and predicts?
May be both of these scientific goals require two distinct frameworks.

Mark A. Nadler Internet:
Ashland University Phone: (419) 289-5912
Ashland, OH 44805 Fax: (419) 289-5949