Sigmund Freud told of a Jewish women who dreamt that a stranger handed her a comb. The women desired to marry a Christian man which triggered an emotional argument with her mother on the night prior to her dream. When Freud asked her what memories she associated with the word comb the woman told him that once her mother had once told her not to use a separate comb because she would "mix the breed." Freud then revealed that the meaning of the dream was an expression of her own latent wish to "mix the breed." Examples such as this seem like very persuasive evidence of Freud's theory that dreams are a form of wish fulfilment but many scientists and philosophers of science say that Freud's theories can't be scientifically falsified or that he lacks scientific evidence. But what constitutes scientific evidence? Surely Freud is a scientist because he grounds his theories in specific empirical clinical examples that he expresses clearly in a way that even the most uneducated person can understand them? The...

I don't myself think the term 'scientific' is a scientific term, nor have philosophers, such as Grunbaum or anyone else given it a very interesting or useful interpretation. Freud had a lot of ideas. So do contemporary psychoanalysts 100 years on. Psychoanalysis is no monolith. We can ask of any of the many many claims that psychoanalysts have made (under the heading of psychoanalysis, forgetting about what they say about other things): are they well backed by evidence and argument? Do they prove clinically useful and successful. Asking those questions is useful and interesting. Asking whether psychoanalysis is scientific is not.

What's your take on the idea that there are "laws" of the universe? Calling something a law implies that there is an enforcer. Isn't this just another anthropocentric paradigm that uses the concept of God in order to place human beings at the center of meaning? I'm agnostic, but even if there is a God hasn't all the revision and tweaking of these so called laws over the ages been evidence that they should be considered as, at best, merely "suggestions"?

Are you talking of scientific laws? If so .... Calling something a scientific law doesn't imply that there is an enforcer. It just requires that there be some kind of regularity - constancy - in the universe. Philosophers dispute what kind of regularity. But they don't typically go for a regularity enforced by God. Nor do philosophers or scientists typically want to place humans at the center of meaning. I'd call the claims of scientists 'hypotheses' rather than 'suggestions' and add that they are hypotheses backed by arguments. The extent to which the arguments are convicing varies from case to case.

In what way do the social sciences and natural sciences differ as science? Are the social sciences "less" scientific?

A great deal has been written on that, and opinions vary. I willjust give you mine. 'Science' and 'scientific' are not themselves terms of science. Somephilosophers have attempted to give the terms a clear meaning (KarlPopper, for example). I think they have failed. And I don't think thatthe ordinary language terms 'science' or 'scientific' are very clear oruseful. So I would suggest that your questions aren't good ones.Further, there are many branches of natural science and many branchesof the social sciences and there is probably little to be learnt fromcarving the whole lot into two groups and trying to compare andcontrast them. Better: look at each branch of study that interests youand see if the theoretical claims are properly justified.