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Why are Linguistics and Law considered as part of the "sciences" rather than "non-science" academic disciplines like say philosophy, history or engineering?

Seeing how both Linguistics and Law only study what has been created by mankind to begin with, or how there is virtually no room for scientists to actually test out various theories and models, it would seem, to me, that both of these fields fail to meet the criteria for being a "science", which is enlarging humanities pool of verified/easily-testable knowledge.

Or to perhaps phrase the question in a less abstract way, how do the Linguists' methods for reaching consensus differ from the methods of historians, which basically is "just" some majority of people agreeing on something based, ultimately, on their intuition. (In contrast to something like math where one can provide formal proofs, or sociology where one can run experiments and tests that meet certain criteria for validity and significance). Similarly, isn't Law "merely" applying the knowledge provided by sociology (and others) and thus more of an engineering discipline rather than a science?

Or is it perhaps like with Computer Science (and various other examples) where the field is just called a science for practical (political/economical/etc.) reasons, but actually fails to formally meet the criteria upon closer examination?

I hope no one is be offended by this. It is a serious question and I'm genuinely interested in objective answers.

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Do many people actually classify law as a science? Maybe this varies between universities, but I've never seen that. By contrast, linguistics seems to me to be one of the most clearly scientific fields among the social sciences (and I can't imagine excluding it as a science if you include mathematics and sociology). I'm not sure what you're looking for. Is this a question about what linguists or lawyers do that might be considered scientific (in which case it's a reasonable question but would be a better fit elsewhere), or what academia considers to be a science (which might fit here)? –  Anonymous Mathematician Apr 21 at 2:47
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linguistics can analyze patterns within words and across languages. There is a good amount of work that overlaps set theory and discrete math with linguistics. –  user1938107 Apr 21 at 3:09
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Signal processing and physiology are also important in modern linguistics research. –  aeismail Apr 21 at 4:54
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What is your evidence for the claim that 'linguistics and law are viewed as science' –  Suresh Apr 21 at 6:10
    
@Anonymous Mathematician: Which place do you suggest that would be more suitable for the question? –  Dexter Apr 21 at 14:00
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2 Answers 2

I disagree with several of the assertions in your question regarding linguistics specifically, as well as more generally.

Firstly, there is no universally agreed upon criteria for something to be classified as a science. The division between science and non-science is a false dichotomy whose only purpose is to elevate some fields and denigrate others as less 'worthy'. This is a cultural distinction. Source: degree in history and philosophy of science.

Secondly, linguistics does in fact display the classic hallmarks that many would say are indicative of science-hood. When you document an otherwise undescribed language, you have to demonstrate correspondences that are repeatable, e.g., a noun phrase in language X consists of a determiner phrase followed by an adjectival phrase, followed by a noun, and this generalisation should hold across the phrase structure of the language. If you find a counterexample, you need to account for it by modifying your theory or disregarding it as an aberrant case. Moreover, your results are repeatable in that if someone goes back and asks for the same sentences, they should get the same, or comparable, responses.

Then you start deriving hypotheses about things like the structure of the language, on the basis of empirical data; a corpus of collected examples. These are subject to peer review and criticism, and if you survive something that this language does that others do not, or that current theory does not predict then you have to back up your claims with extensive empirical data.

This is a short description of the workflow of just one field of linguistics, and does not even encroach upon phonetics, which even has numbers and graphs! Source: a bachelors and a masters in linguistics.

Finally I would disagree that something is not a 'science' (or is less sciency) if it studies something that is a human invention. Language, yes, is a human invention, but each language is a system, and has its own rules that can be teased out by induction and deduction from the data. People don't just decide 'let's start using plural inflection'; its part of the independently testable system. Just like a game of pool is similarly invented by humans, but is analysable as a system. In fact game theory is a perfect analogue to language sciences in this respect; invented by humans, but analysable as a system.

Can't speak about law, however.

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So the method of deciding upon what is and isn't a science isn't a scientific one itself. That's fine, it may mean that the distinction is an arbitrary one, but it doesn't (necessarily) mean that its a false dichotomy. This isn't about looking down on non-science fields - I'm not questioning their validity as academic disciplines. This is about research results of sciences having been validated by some method that goes beyond "just" the collective researchers' intuitions in that field agreeing with one-another, and how Linguistics and Law achieve this. –  Dexter Apr 21 at 14:23
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Or is it perhaps like with Computer Science (and various other examples) where the field is just called a science for practical (political/economical/etc.) reasons, but actually fails to formally meet the criteria upon closer examination?

Computer science is a science by any reasonable definition. Academic computer science is not about learning how to program. It is the theoretical study of computation as a mathematical subject.

In contrast to something like math where one can provide formal proofs,[...]

Formal proofs are extremely common in computer science.

Seeing how both Linguistics and Law only study what has been created by mankind to begin with[...]

Sciences are generally divided into the natural sciences and the social sciences. The latter includes fields like sociology and economics. Just because societies and economies are human-created, that doesn't mean that these fields aren't sciences.

Also, although languages are created by humans, many of the phenomena of language are naturally occurring. For example, certain combinations of sounds are easier to articulate than others, which is a physiological fact. Certain aspects of grammar are hard-wired into the human brain; for example, it is possible to construct artificial grammars that a linguist can tell could never have occurred naturally.

there is virtually no room for scientists to actually test out various theories and models

This is completely untrue for both computer science and linguistics.

Law is completely different. I have never heard of law being referred to as a science. However, the academic study of law may draw upon evidence from the social sciences.

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