Annals of Science 33 (5):457-465 (1976)

Scientism applies the ideas and methods of the natural sciences to the humanities and social sciences. Herbert Spencer applied the law of the conservation of energy to social questions and arrived at formula answers to the issues of the day. The kind of certitude that Spencer aimed for was possible only by ignoring a system of values. Much as he may have believed that he was above personal beliefs, there are values implicit in Spencer's theories and they are the values of the nineteenth-century British middle class. Reasoning by analogy is as valid in social theory as it is in the natural sciences. Spencer's error was in universally applying the idea of the conservation of energy to social systems by means of identity rather than by analogy. Scientists in Britain, where there was a self-assured scientific community, dismissed Spencer's theories as being unscientific, but he enjoyed a vogue in the United States
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DOI 10.1080/00033797600200641
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From 'Circumstances' to 'Environment': Herbert Spencer and the Origins of the Idea of Organism–Environment Interaction.Trevor Pearce - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 41 (3):241-252.

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