Interpreting Weber's Ideal-Types

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 42 (3):356-369 (2012)
Weber’s notion of ideal-types has most frequently been rejected as incoherent or overly abstract. This article maintains that it insightfully addresses explanatory issues in social science by encompassing the agents’ subjective understanding and the need for theorists to comprehend, explain, and evaluate it. As such, ideal-types are not versions of established models in natural science or economics. Further keys are seeing ideal-types as blending interpretive understanding and causal explanation but not thereby causal generalizations, and rational appraisals as consistent with value pluralism
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DOI 10.1177/0048393111408779
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