Functional explanation and evolutionary social science
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
From their conception to the present, the social sciences have invoked a kind of explanation that looks suspect by the standards of the natural sciences. They explain why social practices exist by reference to the purpose or needs they serve. Yet the purposes invoked are generally not the explicit purposes or needs of any individual but of society or social groups. For example, Durkheim claimed that the division of labor in society exists in order to promote social solidarity and Marx thought that the state served to promote the interests of the ruling class. Social scientists have found these explanations as irresistible as their critics have found them mysterious. This chapter traces the controversies over these explanations — generally called functional explanations — and argues that they are widespread in some of our best current social science and that they can provide compelling information in some cases, despite the many doubts about them.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library||
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Daniel Little (1991). Varieties of Social Explanation: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Social Science. Westview Press.
Harold Kincaid (2006). Evolutionary Social Science Beyond Culture. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (4):356-356.
Arno Wouters (1995). Viability Explanation. Biology and Philosophy 10 (4):435-457.
G. A. Cohen (1982). Functional Explanation, Consequence Explanation, and Marxism. Inquiry 25 (1):27 – 56.
Eugene Heath (1992). Rules, Function, and the Invisible Hand an Interpretation of Hayek's Social Theory. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 22 (1):28-45.
Christopher Bertram (1990). International Competition in Historical Materialism. New Left Review (183):116-128.
Mark Risjord (1999). No Strings Attached: Functional and Intentional Action Explanations. Philosophy of Science 66 (3):313.
Peter McLaughlin (2001). What Functions Explain: Functional Explanation and Self-Reproducing Systems. Cambridge University Press.
Harold Kincaid (2004). Contextualism, Explanation and the Social Sciences. Philosophical Explorations 7 (3):201 – 218.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads28 ( #73,120 of 1,679,374 )
Recent downloads (6 months)0
How can I increase my downloads?