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Tuesday
Jun302009

Judicial Common Space Scores, Science and Language

(sent to lawcourts)
 
Hi Chad.

First, thanks so much for sharing this.

Could you tell us a little about the semantic assumptions in the naming of the scores? For example, if someone were to call them the "legal philosophy space scores," would they be wrong? Or, what if they called them something like the "relative casuistry differential" -- would that be off the mark? When you tell others that you have "common space ideology measured," you surely don't mean "conventional ideology," right? And there is, of course, no way for a judge to decide a case that doesn't result in having an "ideology score?" And, if we were to develop measures of this sort of thing for scholars when they make decisions as a group that require judgment -- even the grading of exams -- they, too, would have "common space ideology?"  

I think I know a little about these scores. I admit I haven't paid great attention to them, but I have paid slight to moderate. And as I remember perusing them a while back, I've always found it curious what political science means when it calls them "ideology scores" and why empirical researchers would adopt non-scientific vocabulary for work such as this. Why not actually call the scores by a scientifically jargonized name, as real science does when it studies something in the external world? You do agree, after all, that the only thing quantitative models actually observe in the external world are the indices themselves, not the things they say they are seeing (e.g., "ideology")?  It seems to me that, somewhere down the road, you all may want to develop a science for the creation of indeces like this that could result in a jargonized lexicon that spoke the language of science.

Because as long as you are out there saying you've got "ideology" empirically observed, you really are in danger of sounding like creation science. There is no place in the external world where "ideology" is; the word itself is a normative conclusion about the status of beliefs. It would be something similar to saying, "I've got their epistemology measured." Imagine someone saying, "I have their correctness measured."  "So and So has a correctness score of X." You could, of course, find things in the external world to measure that bear upon a debate about these things, but you really can't say you have the things measured, because they, themselves, are fundamentally accusations about about the normative content of beliefs.  

I really want to help political science become either real science, or -- better yet -- good philosophy.

Regards and thanks. 

Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
Assistant Professor
Wright State University
Redesigned Website: http://seanwilson.org/
SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
Twitter: http://twitter.com/seanwilsonorg
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/seanwilsonorg

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