This book makes for an interesting history of the social sciences and American-euro cold war history then.
The social sciences after 1945, especially during the 1950s underwent a fundamental shift, that was concerned with systems and their models and as well as US democracy/society. Basically, you can find a certain view in disciplines like game theory, cognitive psychology, operations research, economics and social sciences in general.
What was the object of social sciences?
It is about systems that are characterized by their relations.
>In short, the subjects of social science were systems structured by relations, the method employed was behavioral-functional analysis, and the goal was a theoretical model, one that potentially could be made an operational guide to practical action-in some other, future publication.[@heyck2015, 19]
Interesting here is the remark about operationality, one models in order to make operational applications possible with it, at least that is the goal.
According to Heyck, high modern social sciences are associated with what he calls a bureaucratic worldview, which entails certain methods and concepts:
>The central concepts of this approach were system, structure, and function, and the ideal product (not always realized in practice) was a model of a system's structures, functions, and relations, preferably one based on quantitative behavioral data. [@heyck2015, 21]
Things are treated as a system, which is formalized and then can be made into a model, which then can by parameters give outputs for systems of various kinds, i.e. is one step prior to operativity or lends itself to operativity, formally playing out possibilities. Later it is said:
>The high modernist era was oriented around the concept of system and the consequent attempt to create a social science that could map and manage the structures, processes, and functions of systems, usually by tracing the flows of information, communication, or control in them. [@heyck2015, 187]
high modern social science and bureaucratic view are in the following relation for him: they are to be separated from each other, one is a corpus of ideas, the other a practical or concrete shaping of science:
>The term high modern social science refers to a constellation of ideas, practices, and social relations; bureaucratic worldview describes the (sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit) basic assumptions about the structure of the world and the nature of science that underlay high modern social science.[@heyck2015, 22]
He counts them among the modern social sciences, high because they had exuberant ambitions, high self-confidence in their own methods and views, etc., and because their view was one from above, claiming universal validity.[@heyck2015, 23]
A whole chapter is dedicated to a model of man as homo adaptivius:
>>Homo adaptivus (a complex, error-controlled, hierarchically structured, functionally differentiated, system of nested systems whose structures, functions, and behaviors are fundamentally shaped by its cognitive limits) has assumed many guises: a cybernetic problem solver and category maker, a homeostatic stress manager, an economic and political decisionmaker, a creator of new cultural gestalts, a traveler in a mental mazeway, and a model-building conceptual schemer, thinker, tinker, and science maker. The different disciplinary clothes that homo adaptivus wore did matter, but in 1956–57, beneath those clothes walked much the same man—for those who embraced high modernism, at least.
Heyck elaborates this development as the consequence of an organizational revolution that continues to unfold.
The point was that the ideas could actually have an impact, those who think systemically and can implement that win wars. In addition, there is a technical development that opens up new spaces, also for thoughts. Today, this is even more true as these technologies have evolved.
>In addition, technological advances in organizational technologies provided new tools to think with, from radio and television and their associated networks to feedback controlled servomechanisms (frequently used in weapons systems and in electronic circuitry), to the first digital computers, which had an enormous inspirational effect on experimental psychologists, among others, especially once those computers were able to store programs.[@heyck2015, 124]
Heyck notes that this preference for system does not destroy the agency of individuals, which would also be fatal due to counter-ideologies (Soviet Union/Marxism etc), but instead a middle course is taken that grants individuals bounded rationality, whereby the individual can continue to be autonomous, but is limited in his rationality or overview of things/reality. The goal is then to construct the systems in such a way that they support the bounded rationality.[@heyck2015, 125] This is then probably the subject of the fourth chapter titled Producing Reason
. And it is the chapter that deals with worries about democracies.
The high modern social sciences were concerned with the decision itself and no longer with the decision-makers. Around 1900, writings were published in the social sciences that questioned the rationality of individuals. People were not rational, but they could act rationally by developing rational systems in which they would find themselves. I.e. the decision theorists within the social sciences (and there were many of them at that time and they spanned many disciplines) were interested in developing systems that promoted rational decision making and thus action, so they had a practical/real goal. They redefined reason/rationality.
One reason, among others, was the perceived threat to democracy by actually irrational individuals who were then rationalized by systems. The irony, according to Heyck in the conclusion, was that people got a problem with these bureaucratic/administrative systems and protested against them."[@heyck2015, 126-142]
Also in the Conclusion is an interesting critique of the game-theoretic prisoner's dilemma, which accuses it of only making certain choices within an authoritarian context. There would be possibilities/decisions in the sistuation that are simply not considered as a decision, e.g., cooperation. [@heyck2015, 141]