Universality biases: How theories about human nature succeed

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 20 (4):421-436 (1990)
University of Keele, England This article analyzes the strategies and means by which universalist claims about human nature become successful in science. Of specific interest are the conditions under which claims of this sort are taken to be inherently superior to those which are particularistic or context-specific (a hierarchy of values which we term "universality bias"). We trace the birth of universalists claims in neglected fields, their growth through methodological agreements and the use of invisible referents, and their roots in multiple audiences with different evaluation criteria. Our analysis complements philosophical and political critiques of theories about human nature and demonstrates the historical specificity of universalist claims.
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DOI 10.1177/004839319002000401
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