¿Son necesarias las ciencias sociales?

¿Por qué corren las ciencias sociales un riesgo mucho mayor de sufrir recortes en sus presupuestos que las otras dos grandes ramas del conocimiento académico, las humanidades y las ciencias naturales? La ex Primer Ministro de Inglaterra, Margaret Thatcher, sugirió abiertamente que ese campo sencillamente no tenía razón de ser: afirmaba que la sociedad no existe. Otros señalan la reestructuración de los departamentos de ciencias sociales de las universidades. Pero se podría decir que la expansión de las escuelas de negocios demuestra la vitalidad constante de las ciencias sociales.

Tampoco es cierto que las ciencias sociales se dediquen a lo obvio, como se suele decir. Al contrario, los lugares comunes de hoy fueron las innovaciones de ayer. Si se comparan los conceptos que se utilizan hoy en día en los editoriales de los periódicos con los que se usaban hace diez años, se puede ver el profundo (aunque no reconocido) impacto de las ciencias sociales. Tal vez nos lamentemos de esa influencia, pero al menos queda registrada.

Sin embargo, ¿cuál es el lugar de las ciencias sociales dentro de la gran conversación sobre la "naturaleza humana" que han desatado los recientes avances en las neurociencias cognoscitivas, la genética conductista y la psicología evolutiva? Véase la elaborada página web www.edge.org llena de información dedicada a promover una "tercera cultura" que crea un puente entre las humanidades y las ciencias naturales. Los científicos sociales brillan por su ausencia.

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