Skip to content

Responsible Social Science

Laszlo Zsolnai’s paper „Responsible Social Science in the Age of Economic Crisis” was published in Human Systems Management (2014, Vol. 33, pp. 1–5).

Zsolnai argues that the current economic crisis calls for a radical rethinking of the role of economics and other social sciences. It is a serious failure of social scientists when they solve the wrong problem precisely. This means that the problem formulation is inadequate, which may lead to disastrous consequences for the fate and well-being of the stakeholders.

To avoid substantive failures in problem formulation social scientists should reconsider the basic assumptions of the system under study and include as many stakeholders’ views as possible. Appropriate solutions should address all the important dimensions of the problem in question (the scientific/technical, the interpersonal-social, the systemic-ecological, and the existential-spiritual), and create an optimal balance among them. Social scientists should also investigate their developed solutions from a deontological point of view (i.e. which ethical norms are violated or satisfied by them?) as well as from a consequentialist point of view (i.e. what are the payoffs for different stakeholders?).

The job of responsible social science is to contribute to long-term economic and social transformation by producing knowledge that is substantively relevant and ethically acceptable at the same time.