Study and Discussion Questions on Mill, Book VI, Ch. 9, sec. 1-3 and Ch. 10, sec. 4, 6, and 7

Study questions:

1. In what sense does Mill believe that the method of the social sciences should be deductive or
a priori (ch. 9, sec, 1)?

2. What is the role of verification? If the claims of some theory or model can be verified, what is the point of the deduction ((ch. 9, sec, 1)?

3. What is the difference between the direct and the inverse deductive methods (ch. 9, sec. 1 and ch. 10, sec. 4)?

Discussion questions:

1. Mill maintains (p. 40) that "knowledge insufficient for prediction may be most valuable for guidance." Is that true? How is that possible? How can a knowledge of tendencies help to guide choices if it is insufficient to make predictions?

2. Mill maintains (p. 41) that "All the general propositions which can be framed by by the deductive [social] science are, therefore, in the strictest sense of the word, hypothetical." What does he mean, and how can hypothetical propositions be of cognitive or practical use?

4. Mill maintains (p. 42) that political economy (that is, economics) is a "separate" science? What does he mean? Why does he believe this? Why is it important whether or not economics is a separate science?

5. Mill maintains in ch. 10, section 9 "How, the evidence of history and that of human nature combine, by a striking instance of consilience, to show that there really is one social element which is thus predominant, and almost paramount, among the agents of the social progress. This is the state of the speculative faculties of mankind, including the nature of the beliefs which by any means they have arrived at concerning themselves and the world by which they are surrounded." What is he saying, and why does he believe what he is saying? Do you think he is right? What is the connection (if any) between this view of what drives history and an individualistic view of social explanation?