Iv. understanding Peter Winch

Inquiry 28 (1-4):119 – 122 (1985)
Abstract
Peter Winch's The Idea of a Social Science has been the subject of repeated misunderstanding. This discussion takes one recent example and shows how Winch's argument is gravely distorted. What is at issue is not, as is usually supposed, whether we can accept or endorse another society's explanations of its activities, but whether we have to look for an explanatory connection between concepts and action. Winch's argument is that before we can try to explain actions, we have to identify them correctly. This can only be done by seeing how they, and the concepts they are associated with, fit within a way of life. Grasping its rule?following character is understanding action. Once the difficulties in making such identifications are appreciated, we will be less inclined to accept facile explanations why people in other societies do the things they do
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