Philosophical and methodological issues in understanding transportation impacts: Learning from other disciplines

It is the premise of this paper that many disciplines, within the social sciences and outside of them, look at exactly these sorts of compound questions; that it is possible and useful to look how various disciplines identify and phrase such questions and also to look at the various methods that are employed to gain answers to them; that knowledge gained from other disciplines in these respects can then be applied to improve public policy analysis; and that new methods, or more likely and more properly speaking, hybrids of existing methods, or research protocols derived from them, can then be developed for actual use by public policy analysts. This paper will take a very preliminary stab at developing these premises in a concrete fashion. First some philosophical issues surrounding "social science" inquiry will be discussed. Then, using the particular case of forensic entomology (the use of insect science to solve crimes), a stylized investigate protocol is developed and then applied to a simple case of the urban economic development impacts of highway investments to see how seemingly unrelated disciplines might inform each other in setting up and examining specific problems. Finally, an agenda for further research is then discussed.
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