Page:Science and Citizenship.djvu/53

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Science and Citizenship


There are those who tell us, that there is no proper science of society because there are no known sociological laws. Others go still further, and say that the nature of human society is such that no social laws are discoverable, that there is no science of human society, that sociology not only does not, but never will exist. This is a mode of argument well known to historians of scientific thought. It has been used at every epochal advance by the obscurantists to justify their ignorance and soothe their vanity. It belongs, in fact, to the self-protective devices so common everywhere throughout the organic world, and especially amongst the higher animals. Probably the most effective reply to this sort of criticism is for the scientific observer to ignore it, and to continue without interruption his observations and generalisations of them. If those who tell us there are no laws in social science would say instead that they themselves do not know any such laws, we might be happy to agree with them. And if those who say there never can be any such laws would say instead that they themselves are determined never to know any such laws, we might reasonably leave them in possession of the ignorance to which they have pinned their faith, with such a noble assurance that it will last their time. In point of fact, what generalisations, in the nature of scientific law, are there at the disposal of the sociologist who wishes to predict the future