The contrast between man’s amazing ability to manipulate his world and his pitiful incompetence in managing his own affairs is now as commonplace as it is tragic. It is by rigorous devotion to scientific method that we have made our conquests over the material environment; it is obvious that this method is not normally applied to the field of relations of human beings, individual and collective. These are conducted in a quite different way, governed by a medley of primitive impulses set in a framework of a traditional morality that varies from place to place and age to age. In these matters science plays little part; yet more than a century has passed since Auguste Comte said that the rational reform of society must be brought about by the application of scientific method to social problems. It is, therefore, the first purpose of this essay to ask how far social problems might be tackled by the methods of science.
1. Introduction 2. Scientific Method in the Social Sciences 3. Pre-Scientific Mental Habits 4. Two Blind Alleys 5. Science and Metaphysics 6. Science and Morals 7. Science and the Arts 8. Conclusion