In “A Tension in the Strong Program: The Relation between the Rational and the Social”, Shahram Shahryari (2021) advances the following thesis: In his Strong Program in the sociology of science, David Bloor blames traditional philosophy of science for adopting a dualist strategy in explaining scientific developments, as it employs rational explanation for successful science and social explanation for flawed science. Instead, according to Bloor, all scientific developments should be explained monistically, i.e. in terms of social causes. This is also (...) referred to as the Symmetry Principle, and it is a key tenet in the Strong Program. The author detects a tension here, as Bloor apparently asserts that traditional philosophy of science deploys two kinds of explanation, and simultaneously insists that there is only one kind, i.e. social explanation. (shrink)
This collection of papers investigates the most recent debates about individualism and holism in the philosophy of social science. The debates revolve mainly around two issues: firstly, whether social phenomena exist sui generis and how they relate to individuals. This is the focus of discussions between ontological individualists and ontological holists. Secondly, to what extent social scientific explanations may and should, focus on individuals and social phenomena respectively. This issue is debated amongst methodological holists and methodological individualists. -/- In social (...) science and philosophy, both issues have been intensively discussed and new versions of the dispute have appeared just as new arguments have been advanced. At present, the individualism/holism debate is extremely lively and this book reflects the major positions and perspectives within the debate. This volume is also relevant to debates about two closely related issues in social science: the micro-macro debate and the agency-structure debate. -/- This book presents contributions from key figures in both social science and philosophy, in the first such collection on this topic to be published since the 1970s. -/- . (shrink)
Social reality is a key problem in the philosophy of social science. Outlining the major historical and contemporary issues raised by the social reality and social facts, this book has something to offer both philosophers and social scientists. To the former is shows how the well-worn topic of realism versus anti-realism assumes new and interestingly varied forms when social reality is substituted for physical reality. For the social scientist, the book offers conceptual clarification of key issues in recent social science (...) which are really philosophical issues. (shrink)
Social reality is currently a hotly debated topic not only in social science, but also in philosophy and the other humanities. Finn Collin, in this concise guide, asks if social reality is created by the way social agents conceive of it? Is there a difference between the kind of existence attributed to social and to physical facts - do physical facts enjoy a more independent existence? To what extent is social reality a matter of social convention. Finn Collin considers a (...) number of traditional doctrines which support the constructivist position that social reality is generated by our 'interpretation' of it. He also examines the way social facts are contingent upon the meaning invested in them by social agents; the nature of social convention; the status of social facts as symbolic; the ways in which socially shared language is claimed to generate the reality described, as well as the limitations of some of the over-ambitious popular arguments for social constructivism. (shrink)
In his article, “The Strong Program and Asymmetrical Explanation of the History of Science: A Reply to Collin” (Shahryari 2022b), Shahram Shahryari responds to my comments (in Collin 2022) upon his original article, “A Tension in the Strong Program: The Relation between the Rational and the Social” (Shahryari 2022a). I believe that in this new contribution, Shahryari changes the subject as compared to our original discussion. Hence, before I comment upon his recent contribution, I want to recapitulate briefly the content (...) of that discussion. (shrink)
This paper examines the often overlooked parallels between the critical theory of the German Frankfurt School and Science and Technology Studies in Britain, as an attempt to articulate a critique of science as a social phenomenon. The cultural aspect of the German and British arguments is in focus, especially the role attributed to the humanities in balancing cultural and techno-scientific values in society. Here, we draw parallels between the German argument and the Two Cultures debate in Britain. The third and (...) final purpose of the paper is to explain why these efforts in support of the humanities would in the end prove fruitless, even somewhat self-defeating. The key factor is the instrumentalist analysis of science adopted in both arguments, which played into the hands of the emergent “entrepreneurial university” with its strengthened emphasis upon the economico-technological aspect of science and consequent neglect of the humanities. (shrink)
Social constructivists claim that many phenomena that we normally assume to exist independently are really just created by collective human action, thought and language. Constructivists deploy a number of sophisticated philosophical arguments to support this thesis and, in so far as their reasoning typically serves an ulterior ideological purpose, it may fairly be called applied philosophy. The goal is to change various aspects of the existing order of things; constructivist arguments are used to show that this order is a human (...) creation and is hence modifiable by human effort. A number of such “deconstructive” agendas are presented. The first deals with natural science and its privileged societal status; the next critiques orthodox Marxism; the third is the feminist campaign against patriarchal society. While these critical efforts have had considerable impact, their protagonists have been less successful in constructing alternatives to the items deconstructed. (shrink)
A criticism is offered of the chief argument employed by Davidson to debunk the notion of “metaphorical meaning”, which exploits the static nature of standard truth-conditional semantics. We argue, first, that Davidson's argument fails, and go on to suggest, secondly, that truth-conditional semantics would profit if the static feature were abandoned and were replaced by a processual, dynamic conception of meaning. We try to show that this processual aspect can be captured without making the ensuing semantic theory open to the (...) charge of psychologism. (shrink)
In this book, Roger Trigg manages within a brief space to encompass most of the problems that have occupied philosophers of social science recently. The book reflects the shift in interests away from such traditional debates as that concerning reasons versus causes and to such topics as the nature of social reality, the understanding of other cultures, rationality, and the "strong programme" in the sociology of knowledge.
In the debate between internalists and externalists in philosophy of language and philosophy of psychology, internalists such as Jerry Fodor have invoked a strong a priori argument to show that externalist descriptions can play no role in a science of the human mind and of human action. Shifting the ground of the debate from psychology to social science, I try to undermine Fodor's reasoning. I also point to a role for externalist theorising in the area where the socio-semantic theory of (...) the 'division of linguistic labour' makes contact with traditional micro-sociological theorising. (shrink)
Since World War II social theory has generated two major critical analyses of science as a social phenomenon: that of the Frankfurt School, and of Science and Technology Studies. These academic efforts grew out of a broader movement in Western societies in the decades following the war to reach a better accommodation between science and society, motivated by deep-seated popular anxieties about the challenges posed by the advance of science and technology. In this paper, I first examine the overlooked parallels (...) between these two academic efforts, and go on to explain why they would in the end prove fruitless, indeed somewhat self-defeating. The explanation points to the instrumentalist and constructivist conception of science shared by the two schools which would eventually play into the hands of the “entrepreneurial university” and the commodification of science. (shrink)
The strong programme in the sociology of science is officially "inductively" based, generalizing a number of highly acclaimed case studies into a general approach to the social study of science. However, at a critical juncture, the programme allies itself with certain radical ideas in philosophical semantics, notablyWittgenstein's "rule following considerations". The result is an implausible, radical conventionalist view of natural science which undermines the empirical programme.
What is linguistic meaning? What do people precisely do in uttering sentences? What are the principles involved in linguistic interpretation? How is it possible that linguistic signs, such as oral sounds or squiggles on a piece of paper, refer to things in the world? This book presents the attempts by philosophers in the 20th century to understand the workings of language, and address questions such as these.Presenting an accessible, balanced introduction to the philosophy of language as it has evolved in (...) analytical philosophy during the 20th century, this textbook offers equal attention to both of the main divisions within the field of philosophical semantics - truth-conditional theory and speech act theory - and shows how these theoretical approaches may be construed as complementary abstractions from a prior, undifferentiated understanding of meaning as defined by use.Meaning, Use and Truth offers students of philosophy of language and those in related fields such as logic or linguistics a comprehensive introduction to the field, and explores why philosophy of language in the 20th century could be viewed as providing the key to the solution of the classical problems of philosophy. (shrink)