Social sciences can discover truths about human institutions and behaviors.
Then, we agree about that. In that case, I think that we may disagree about far less than I initially thought in Vanessa’s Introductory thread.
I will assume from your response to the prior question that, in the case of both the physical sciences and the social sciences, you agree that a very limited human perception leads us to our conclusions about what is factual or true. Also, that we can and often do make mistakes about what we believe is factual or true. For example, people once thought that the sun revolved around the earth. In fact, they were wrong, and when they acquired more detailed evidence they concluded that it was the other way around. If we are rational in our approach to examining available evidence and we are open to the possibility that we may be wrong about one thing or another, that means that we are amenable to critical thought, right? In that sense, we are always working from the standpoint of a “best guess for now.”
When I made my initial statement about right and wrong being independent of culture, my real point was that some things can and ought to be asserted as right or wrong whether other people agree with them or not. Sometimes the group is wrong and the solitary individual is right. After all, what really is a culture but a group of individuals who behave and believe things together. I imagine that you agree with most of this. Am I incorrect to assume?
I suspect that the directness of my language is, more so, what bothers you about my ethical stances. Perhaps it struck you as priggish. So, if you’ll pardon the rhetorical questions:
Must we qualify all statements that we make with such phrasing as “it is my opinion that…” or “in my understanding…”?
May we not take for granted that anything that anyone states is limited by the scope of their understanding.
Isn’t anything that anyone believes just a best guess, if not less than a best guess due to bad reasoning or a lack of reason?
Would making a statement without such verbal qualifications really make us less or more likely to take an authoritarian stance?
Let us not confuse parsimony and economy of language with arrogance or a closed mind.