Social scientists engaging public questions need to offer truth. If scholarly knowledge has no authority, if it doesn’t provide good reasons to believe that some courses of action are better than others, or riskier, or less reliable, then it doesn’t have a distinctive value. But the authority of scholarly knowledge isn’t and can’t be perfect. Science is, after all, in large part a process of learning from errors, not just a process of accumulating truths. And especially in social science, truths are often highly contextual and conditional, predictions of what is more or less likely under certain circumstances, not statements of absolute and unvarying causal relationships. Social scientists bring real knowledge, but inevitably incomplete knowledge. The truths of social science are, moreover, graspable in different ways. They have to be communicated and this always means rendering them in ways that foreground certain aspects more than others, that illuminate some dimensions and leave others in the shadows. Knowledge is part of culture, not easily and fully abstractable from the rest of culture. But it is partly through the effort to communicate knowledge to non-specialists that researchers (like teachers) see new implications of what they know, new dimensions to issues they thought they understood fully, and sometimes limits to their own grasp of what they thought were established truths.
Francamente, yo todavía no he conocido a ningún científico/a social que ignore la realidad o esfera pública, o que se niegue a hablar con "practicioners", y a escucharlos. Más bien lo contrario. Así que, en cierto modo, no veo donde está el problema. En otras palabras, me cuesta poner cara a los "like-minded scholars" concentrados en pequeñas cuestiones a los que se refiere Walt -pero quizás es que viven escondidos en sus cuevas, resolviendo "problem sets" y/o haciendo experimentos.
Etiquetas: ciencia politica