Princeton University Press 1995
This investigation of the overwhelming appeal of quantification in
the modern world discusses the development of cultural meanings of
objectivity over two centuries. How are we to account for the current
prestige and power of quantitative methods? The usual answer is that
quantification is seen as desirable in social and economic
investigation as a result of its successes in the study of nature.
Theodore Porter is not content with this. Why should the kind of
success achieved in the study of stars, molecules, or cells be an
attractive model for research on human societies? he asks. And, indeed,
how should we understand the pervasiveness of quantification in the
sciences of nature? In his view, we should look in the reverse
direction: comprehending the attractions of quantification in business,
government, and social research will teach us something new about its
role in psychology, physics, and medicine.