Peter Winch and the Autonomy of the Social Sciences

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 52 (3):150-174 (2022)
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Abstract

Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Volume 52, Issue 3, Page 150-174, June 2022. This article offers a reassessment of the main import of Peter Winch’s philosophy of the social sciences. Critics argue that Winch presented a flawed methodology for the social sciences, while his supporters deny that Winch’s work is about methodology at all. Contrary to both, the author argues that Winch deals with fundamental questions about methodology, and that there is something substantial to learn from his account. Winch engages methodological questions without being committed to social ontology. Instead, Winch’s work on methodology is best described as a descriptive metaphysics of social inquiry. This alternative reading clarifies the close link between Winch’s argument for the autonomy of the social sciences and R. G. Collingwood’s philosophy of history.

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Jonas Ahlskog
Åbo Akademi University (PhD)

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