Murdoch University Research Repository

Welcome to the Murdoch University Research Repository

The Murdoch University Research Repository is an open access digital collection of research
created by Murdoch University staff, researchers and postgraduate students.

Learn more

'High society: Are our social sciences as relevant to government as they might be?'

Wickham, G. (2008) 'High society: Are our social sciences as relevant to government as they might be?'. Australian Universities Review, 50 (2). pp. 142-161.

PDF - Published Version
Download (147kB)
Free to read:
*No subscription required


Taking up a theme raised by Stuart Cunningham in a recent issue of the AUR – that the innovations of Australia’s humanities, creative arts, and social sciences are not getting the recognition that they deserve from the nation’s government – this paper, dealing only with the social sciences, offers a cautionary note. If the social sciences are to hold the serious attention of the government of any modern Western nation, including Australia’s, they cannot continue to fall prey to the tendency, displayed by too many of their practitioners, to criticise ceaselessly such government. That is, to employ a style of criticism called here ‘unengaged critique’. This style of criticism targets modern Western governments because they are not seeking perfection, because they are seeking only to do the best they can with the resources they have at hand. The paper offers an explanation of the basis of this tendency, an explanation focusing on one of two understandings of ‘the social’ or ‘society’ available to the social sciences – the abundant reason-natural morality understanding – and it offers a means of avoiding it, by using the rival to this understanding – the politico-legal understanding.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Publisher: National Tertiary Education Union
Item Control Page Item Control Page


Downloads per month over past year