Confirmation, Complexity and Social Laws

Abstract
I defend the prospect of good science in the social sciences by looking at the obstacles to social laws. I criticize traditional approaches, which rule for or against social laws on primarily conceptual grounds, and argue that only a close analysis of actual empirical research can decide the issue. To that end, I focus on problems caused by the ceteris paribus nature of social generalizations, outline a variety of ways those problems might be handled, and then examine in detail the work of Paige on agrarian revolutions. Paige's work, I argue, handles its problems roughly as well as does some of the best work in evolutionary biology. The upshot is that some social laws can be relatively well confirmed.
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