Inductive Social Metaphysics—A Defence of Inference to the Best Explanation in the Metaphysics of Social Reality: Comments on Katherine Hawley

Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 49 (2):199-210 (2018)
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Abstract

How is metaphysics related to the empirical sciences? Should metaphysics in general be guided by the sources, methods and results of the sciences? And what about the special case of the metaphysics of the social world: should it likewise be guided by the sources, methods and results of the social sciences? In her paper “Social Science as a Guide to Social Metaphysics?”, K. Hawley raises the question: If we are sympathetic to the project of naturalising metaphysics, how should we approach the metaphysics of the social world? She proceeds by discussing three approaches to social metaphysics: inference to the best explanation from current social science, descriptive conceptual analysis, and normative, especially ‘ameliorative’ projects. At the end of her discussion, she reaches a rather pessimistic conclusion, especially as regards the IBE approach: “a number of phenomena indicate that the prospects for securely basing social metaphysics via inference to the best explanation from social science are currently faint. […] We need to look elsewhere if we are to develop a metaphysics of the social world.” In my comments on her paper, I try to re-animate the program of an inductive metaphysics by defending the idea that the method of inference to the best explanation should be the central method of justification for metaphysics in general and for social metaphysics in particular.

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Oliver R. Scholz
University of Münster

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Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Logical foundations of probability.Rudolf Carnap - 1950 - Chicago]: Chicago University of Chicago Press.
On what grounds what.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - In David Manley, David J. Chalmers & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 347-383.

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