The Evidence for Virtue: Social Science, Natural Law, and Human Flourishing

The Evidence for Virtue: Social Science, Natural Law, and Human Flourishing.

Some snippets:

Social science is the application of human reason to study the stuff of human life. Social science attempts to describe, explain, and predict human phenomena by using the tools of the scientific method: observation of empirical data based, when possible, on repeatable experiments to test falsifiable hypotheses. Social science as a whole is comprised of subfields, each looking at different aspects of human phenomena: at individuals (psychology), societies (sociology), politics (political science), culture (anthropology), or the production and exchange of goods, services, and labor (economics).

[ . . . ]

One immediate objection to this approach is that social science is supposed to be morally neutral. Following the scientific method, it should only be concerned with describing the world, not prescribing how to behave in it. Science addresses the “is”: only philosophy and theology can address the “ought,” and we cannot obtain the latter from the former.

If it were true that social science is uncommitted to normative frameworks, this would be a powerful critique. But the neutrality of social science is far less substantial than advertised. As Leo Strauss argued in Natural Right and History, it is impossible, in practice, to provide a morally neutral description of certain kinds of phenomena, such as genocide. Even to describe them is, to a morally sensitive audience, to condemn them.

As Francis Schaeffer once said, Christianity is the “truth about total reality, not just religious things”.

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