I am reading for my Social Research Methods class, and came across a section on external and internal validity. It reminded me of a post I did about the true nature of the physical sciences.
They call the social sciences science to try to give them the legitimacy that the physical sciences hold. But just like the promoters of the physical sciences as truth claim for them more than they can, so do the social sciences.
But that wasn’t the exact point I came up with while doing my reading. What I came up with was:
We call these the social sciences, which are lined up to the physical sciences. But actual science, the physical sciences, in the scientific method sense, are all laboratory sciences, with high internal validity and low external validity (Internal validity means it can predict what happens within the experiment, external is how well that can be applied outside the experiment). It is engineering, not science, that applies to the natural world and increases the external validity.
The same is true of the social sciences. We use the word science, but it is really more of a social engineering rather than science when we move from the internal to external validity levels.
To link these thoughts to their philosophical roots, look at the first post I mentioned, or this follow-on post I did a few months later (and a year ago exactly) on a similar part of the topic.