Social Psychology, Science And History

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Personality And Social Psychology Bulletin


Further exploration into the historical dependency of social knowledge is undertaken, with special attention given to various objections to the earlier thesis. Initial concern is with general theory as a means of transcending historical period. It is found that while such theory may be of continuous utility as an explanatory device, its contribution to the task of pre diction is highly limited. The related issue of "underlying regularity" is then considered, and the conclusion reached that regularity must continuously be negotiated post hoc. Further, social life is sufficiently complex that virtually all hypo thetical regularities may be supported. The "if then..." solution is then considered, and it is found that the process of continued qualification over time renders theories untestable. Numerous instances of eroding knowledge are then considered, along with the issue of enlightenment effects in social psy chology. It is concluded that the important question is not if present knowledge is passing into obscurity so much as whether its passing is inevitable.

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