Naturalism and the Enlightenment ideal : rethinking a central debate in the philosophy of social science
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In P. D. Magnus & Jacob Busch (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Science. Palgrave Macmillan (2010)
The naturalism versus interpretivism debate the in philosophy of social science is traditionally framed as the question of whether social science should attempt to emulate the methods of natural science. I show that this manner of formulating the issue is problematic insofar as it presupposes an implausibly strong unity of method among the natural sciences. I propose instead that what is at stake in this debate is the feasibility and desirability of what I call the Enlightenment ideal of social science. I argue that this characterization of the issue is preferable, since it highlights the central disagreement between advocates of naturalism and interpretivism, makes connections with recent work on the topics of causal inference and social epistemology, while avoiding unfruitful comparisons between the social and natural sciences.
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