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#18 - JRL 7260
Subject: JRL Lichfield Debate
From: Robert Bruce Ware (rware@siue.edu)
Date: Tue, July 22, 2003

Dear Mr. Lichfield

Thank you for your JRL contribution, which I enjoyed. As a philosopher, I am generally sympathetic to efforts to extend models from physical science to social science by way of analogies. As you know, physicists such as Bohr, Heisenberg, and Schrodinger have attempted similar extensions -- though sometimes from physics to biology instead of physics to social science. Moreover, I recall writing to you about a year ago to thank you for your earlier application of this wave function model to issues surrounding V. Putin's presidency. However, this time it seems to me that there is an oversight in your argument: Political scientists actually do generate new data everytime that they conduct a public opinion survey or an elite interview, or observe a legislative session, or maintain a vote tally, or conduct an exit poll, etc. I think that you would be on slightly stronger ground if you argued that a historian does not generate new data but rather interprets and reorganizes existing data. Indeed, even this argument would be controversial since many philosophers of history, and some historians, have argued that the work of historians is purely "subjective" in the sense that there simply is no "objective" historical data, which is to say that historians also generate "new" data. Yet if you were to accept philosophical arguments regarding the subjectivity of historical knowledge, then this might be made to dovetail usefully with your wave function analogy. In any case, you and your respondents have contributed to an interesting debate, and I hope that you will find opportunity to continue your efforts in this regard.

Robert Ware
Assoc. Prof.
Philosophy Dept.
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

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