Review essay: Perspectival realism, representational models, and the social sciences

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 40 (1):107-117 (2010)
In this book, Ronald Giere seeks to resolve the opposition between objectivism and constructivism by suggesting a third way, perspectival realism, according to which both sides are partly right. To prove his case, Giere reconstructs some of the acknowledged puzzle pieces in the philosophy of science (theory, observation, etc.). To my mind, of most interest is the piece Giere calls “representional model.” Constituting the basis of every science, it functions as a template that governs data collection as well as theory development. Throughout the book, Giere illustrates his various propositions with examples taken from the natural sciences. I contend that the propositions are just as relevant for the social sciences and present some examples in order to indicate this. Especially, the concept of model is useful both for a better understanding of social science and for increasing its cumulativity
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