Predictability in life and in science

Inquiry 4 (1-4):131 – 147 (1961)
It is a significant coincidence that social science tends to assume a universal human need for predictability, and also uses predictive power as the basic criterion of scientific truth. It is claimed here that man's need for predictability often is crossed by a need for uncertainty and chance. Thus it seems doubtful that the methodological canon of predictability can be anchored in the universal usefulness of social predictions. Some important cases of decision?making seem to be more concerned with the past than with the future. The task of the social sciences cannot be completely separated from philosophical problems, since it is part of a continuous endeavour to clarify the image of man
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DOI 10.1080/00201746108601330
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Robert K. Merton (1961). Social Theory and Social Structure. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 11 (44):345-346.

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