An evolutionary social science? A skeptic’s brief, theoretical and substantive

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 34 (4):451-492 (2004)
Abstract
So-called grand or paradigmatic theories—structural functionalism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, rational-choice theory—provide their proponents with a conceptual vocabulary and syntax that allows for the classification and configuring of wide ranges of phenomena. Advocates for any particular “analytical grammar” are accordingly prone to conflating the internal coherence of their paradigm—its integrated complex of definitions, axioms, and inferences—with a corresponding capacity for representational verisimilitude. The distinction between Theory-as-heuristic and Theory-as-imposition is of course difficult to negotiate in practice, given that empirical observation and measurement are not entirely “theory neutral” or independent of prior analytical conceptualization. Nonetheless, the scientific cogency of any theory is ultimately evaluated by the substantive realism of its foundational assumptions and categorical designations; that is, the accuracy with which it identifies and tracks the determinant properties and processes of the phenomena to be explicated. The paradigm of sociocultural evolutionism—despite extensive revamping by contemporary proponents—does not carry warrant in this regard, as its recourse to an analytical grammar fashioned and derived from another discipline raises doubts about its empirical veridicality. This article revisits the contentious issue of remodeling social phenomena in accordance with biological categories and offers both a theoretical and a substantive critique of the “selectionist” paradigm. The transdisciplinary program of historical social science is affirmed by way of counterpoint
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  •   Try with proxy.
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA
    Similar books and articles
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2009-01-28

    Total downloads

    7 ( #149,801 of 1,089,156 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    0

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


    Discussion
    Start a new thread
    Order:
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.