Reduction, Supervenience, and the Autonomy of Social Scientific Laws

Theory and Decision 48 (2):101-122 (2000)
Abstract
Many have felt that it is impossible to defend autonomous laws of social science: where the regularities upheld are law-like it is argued that they are not at base social scientific, and where the phenomena to be explained would seem to require social descriptions, it is argued that laws governing the phenomena are unavailable at that level. But is it possible to develop an ontology that supports the dependence of the social on the physical, while nonetheless supporting the explanatory power of genuinely autonomous social scientific laws? The aim of this paper is to show that reductive explanation is not a requirement of a `naturalist' ontology, thereby defending an account of supervenience as a suitable framework within which to recognize a metaphysical relationship between the natural and the social that is consistent with the pursuit of autonomous nomological social scientific explanations
Keywords Reduction  Social Science  Laws  Supervenience
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