Rethinking the interpretivism versus naturalism debate in the philosophy of social science

The naturalism versus interpretivism debate in social science is traditionally framed as the question of whether social science should attempt to emulate the methods of natural science. I argue 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 the core question of the debate is the extent to which reliable causal inference is possible in social science, a question that cannot be answered by comparisons between social and natural science. I explore how some common arguments on both sides of the issue should be reexamined if the naturalism versus interpretivism debate is understood as I propose.
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Nancy C. M. Hartsock (1980). Social Life and Social Science: The Significance of the Naturalist/Intentionalist Dispute. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:325 - 345.
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