Food for Thought Module II: What Are the Social Sciences Good For?
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In our era of Big Data, we have become increasingly aware of and concerned about the biases structuring surveys and encoded into algorithms that in turn shape the way that we think and live. These concerns fuel suspicions of the social sciences themselves, even as we continue to lean on their purportedly objective conclusions for decision making in pluralist societies that otherwise lack common moral frameworks. This Food for Thought module, What Are the Social Sciences Good For? will challenge students to explore the unique strengths and limitations of social sciences when it comes to addressing the most fundamental human questions about truth and the good life. With the guidance of special guest faculty facilitators, we will discuss questions like:

-What are the axioms and assumptions underlying these disciplines?
-Do the social sciences offer a uniquely compelling vantage point for inquiry into meaningful questions as compared to other disciplines?
-How should we understand the imperfect effort to be fully objective within the social sciences, and what is the role of value judgments in research and evaluation?
-How ought we think about the relationship between the social sciences, humanities, and the hard sciences?

The goal of this module is not to pit social sciences against other disciplines in an attempt to identify which is the superior avenue for truth-seeking. Instead, the goal is to serve as a forum for critical, imaginative conversation about the ways in which the social sciences can and cannot facilitate human flourishing and understanding.

Time: 7pm – 8pm ET
Dates: Wednesdays, October 14, October 21, October 28

The reading for October 28 can be found here: This reading includes excerpts from "The Positive Humanities: Culture and Human Flourishing" by James O. Pawelski, who will be our special guest facilitator for this final session.

Participants are encouraged to read the full essay from which the readings above are excerpted. If you would like to do this optional reading, the full text can be found here:

This seminar is open to students. All who sign up below will receive the Zoom information.
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