In this ground-breaking new text, Patrick Baert analyses the central perspectives in the philosophy of social science, critically investigating the work of Durkheim, Weber, Popper, critical realism, critical theory, and Rorty's neo pragmatism. Places key writers in their social and political contexts, helping to make their ideas meaningful to students. Shows how these authors’ views have practical uses in empirical research. Lively approach that makes complex ideas understandable to upper-level students, as well as having scholarly appeal.
This is the definitive companion to the study of the philosophy of the socialsciences. It provides the student with an accessible, comprehensive and philosophically rigorous introduction to all the major philosophical concepts, issues and debates raised by the socialsciences. Ideal for use in undergraduate courses, the structure and content of this textbook-the most thorough, clearly argued and up-to-date available-closely reflect the way the philosophy of the socialsciences is studied and (...) taught. The text examines key conceptual and methodological questions in the socialsciences and illustrates how these shape the practice of research, the interpretation of findings and theory formulation in such disciplines as economics, political science and psychology. The book not only offers lucid and incisive coverage of the philosophy of the socialsciences, but also extends the major debates and considers the latest directions in this growing area of philosophical interest. Robert C. Bishop's cogent and rigorous analysis is supplemented by useful pedagogical features, including key examples from philosophical writing; summaries of core debates; sample questions and exercises; and guides for further reading. (shrink)
This volume is a unique contribution to the philosophy of the socialsciences, presenting the results of cutting-edge philosophers' research alongside critical discussions by practicing social scientists. The book is motivated by the view that the philosophy of the socialsciences cannot ignore the specific scientific practices according to which social scientific work is being conducted, and that it will be valuable only if it evolves in constant interaction with theoretical developments in (...) the socialsciences. With its unique format guaranteeing a genuine discussion between philosophers and social scientists, this thought-provoking volume extends the frontiers of the field. It will appeal to all scholars and students interested in the interplay between philosophy and the socialsciences. (shrink)
Naturalism is still facing a strong opposition in the philosophy of social science from influential scholars who argue that philosophical analysis must be autonomous from scientific investigation. The opposition exploits philosophers’ traditional diffidence toward social science and fuels the ambition to provide new foundations for social research. A classic anti-naturalist strategy is to identify a feature of social reality that prevents scientific explanation and prediction. An all-time favorite is the dependence of social phenomena on (...) human representation. This article examines two prominent versions of the dependence thesis and concludes that they both fail. Contemporary social science is capable of accounting for the causal dependence of social reality on representation, and there is no reason to believe that social entities are ontologically dependent on the collective acceptance of a constitutive rule. (shrink)
In this article, I will discuss two prominent views on the relevance and irrelevance of ontological investigations for the socialsciences, namely, ontological foundationalism and anti-ontological pragmatism. I will argue that both views are unsatisfactory. The subsequent part of the article will introduce an alternative role for ontological projects in the philosophy of the socialsciences that fares better in this respect by paying attention to the ontological assumptions of actual social scientific theories, models, (...) and related explanatory practices. I will illustrate and support this alternative through discussion of three concrete cases. (shrink)
Book synopsis: Philosophy of the SocialSciences: 5 Questions is a collection of original contributions from a distinguished score of the world’s most prominent and influential scholars in the field. They deal with questions such as what drew them towards the area; how they view their own contribution, and what the future of the socialsciences looks like.
A welcome reader in recent literature on the methodology and commitments of social science, including 21 sizable essays from the works of Simmel, Winch, Nagel, Hempel, Weber, Ayer, Merleau-Ponty and others. The editor provides an impressive introduction, brief prefaces to the five sections, an index, notes on the contributors, and an extensive bibliography. What makes this volume exciting is its dialectical make-up: it is conceived as an argument, the selections being arranged to form a sustained debate on a number (...) of issues clustered around the idea of a social science. Some of the issues involved: is social science a science?, the nature of theory construction, the merits of Verstehen as method, the place of value theory in social science, and the bearings of theory on practice.--N. S. C. (shrink)
This paper argues that realism issue in the socialsciences is not one that can be decided by general philosophical arguments that evaluate entire domains at once. The realism issue is instead many different empirical issues. To defend these claims, I sort issues that are often run together, explicate and criticize several standard realist and antirealist arguments about the socialsciences, and use the example of the productive/nonproductive distinction to illustrate the approach to realism questions that (...) I favor. (shrink)
Book synopsis: This is the first volume of a two-volume introduction to and guide through philosophy. It is intended to orientate, assist, and stimulate the reader at every stage in the study of the subject. Eleven extended essays have been specially commissioned from leading philosophers; each surveys a major area of the subject and offers an accessible but sophisticated account of the main debates. An extended introduction maps out the philosophical terrain and explains how the different subjects relate to (...) each other. The first part of the book deals with the foundations of philosophical enquiry: epistemology; philosophical logic; methodology; metaphysics; and the philosophy of mind. The second part offers four historical chapters, two on ancient and two on modern philosophy, introducing great thinkers from the past, explaining and discussing their ideas, and showing the value of studying them today. The third part comprises two chapters devoted to questions of value, in ethics and aesthetics. Full annotated bibliographies are provided at the ends of chapters to serve as guides to further reading. This is real philosophy, not simplified philosophy; it will be accessible for the beginner but equally valuable for the third-year student. Deep and challenging questions are not shirked; the reader will be given a sense of involvement in the practice of philosophy today. (shrink)
This article introduces and critically analyses Richard Rorty’s neo-pragmatism as a contribution to the philosophy of socialsciences. Although Rorty has written little about philosophy of socialsciences as such, it is argued that his overall philosophical position has significant ramifications for this subject area. The first part of the article sets out the implications of Rorty’s neo-pragmatism for various issues in the philosophy of socialsciences, for instance, the doctrine of (...) naturalism, the nineteenth-century Methodenstreit, the philosophical tenets of Marxism, and the relatively recent wave of post-structuralism. The second part presents a constructive critique of Rorty’s neopragmatist philosophy of socialsciences. Although critical of some aspects of Rorty’s argument, it is argued that his stance could provide a base for a fruitful view of socialsciences, aiming at enlarging human potentialities rather than representation. (shrink)
When, in recent years, philosophers of science attend to the physical sciences, their activity centers on the analysis and clarification of the methods and theories of these sciences. Thus philosophers have made remarkable contributions to our understanding of mechanics, the relativity theory, the quantum theory, probability, and geometry, as well as to the foundations of mathematics. More general discussions about theory construction, explanation, and concept formation always are illustrated and illuminated by reference to specific theories within science. In (...) our generation, most philosophers of science have taken for granted that physical science is descriptive, empirical, functional, and—leaving aside controversial interpretations of quanta—deterministic. (shrink)
The question of the social commitment of the sociologist, and the scientist in general, has become a burning issue facing the sociology of East and West alike, — though it may take different forms., Marxism, communism, and Western society, vol. viii, p. 46.).
This text focuses on the theory of popular politics constructed within the context of analytical Marxism, and asks if rational choice theory provides an adequate basis for explaining patterns of social, political and economic behaviour in traditional China.