David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Behavior and Philosophy 25 (2):121 - 136 (1997)
This paper argues against the false dichotomy between reductionism and holism in the social sciences. I make the points that reductionism is the mark of a mature science, that the social sciences will never progress until they drop their opposition to reductionism, that higher-level explanations, even when more appropriate and coherent than reductionist explanations, must not violate principles established at lower levels of explanation, and that reductionist explanations almost always absorb the explanatory efficiency of broad social categorizations and add incremental validity to them. I demonstrate the validity of these points by exploring them in the context of the four most frequently used variables in social science (gender, race, age, and social class). In each case it is demonstrated that such categories fail to capture the causes of the phenomena social scientists explore, and that by failing to consider more elemental explanations lead to reliance on hypothetical "social facts" which are at best incomplete, and are often demonstrably wrong. The history of science reveals that all disciplines at one time or another have resisted the incursions of the more fundamental sciences, then showed a grudging acceptance of them, and finally became fully integrated with them. The social sciences must do the same with regard to integration with the relevant biological sciences.
|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
Erik Weber & Jeroen Van Bouwel (2002). Symposium on Explanations and Social Ontology 3: Can We Dispense with Structural Explanations of Social Facts? Economics and Philosophy 18 (2):259-275.
Jean Lachapelle (2000). Cultural Evolution, Reductionism in the Social Sciences, and Explanatory Pluralism. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 30 (3):331-361.
John R. Searle (1991). Intentionalistic Explanations in the Social Sciences. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 21 (3):332-344.
Caterina Marchionni (2008). Explanatory Pluralism and Complementarity: From Autonomy to Integration. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 38 (3):314-333.
Harold Kincaid (1996). Philosophical Foundations of the Social Sciences: Analyzing Controversies in Social Research. Cambridge University Press.
Brian Fay (2006). For Science in the Social Sciences. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 36 (2):227-240.
Jeroen van Bouwel (2004). Individualism and Holism, Reduction and Pluralism: A Comment on Keith Sawyer and Julie Zahle. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 34 (4):527-535.
Gerhard Zecha (1992). Value-Neutrality and Criticism. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 23 (1):153-164.
Pierre Demeulenaere (2000). Individualism and Holism: New Controversies in the Philosophy of Social Science. [REVIEW] Mind and Society 1 (2):3-16.
Aku Visala (2008). Religion and the Human Mind: Philosophical Perspectives on the Cognitive Science of Religion. Neue Zeitschrift für Systematicsche Theologie Und Religionsphilosophie 50 (2):109-130.
Bent Flyvbjerg (2001). Making Social Science Matter: Why Social Inquiry Fails and How It Can Succeed Again. Cambridge University Press.
Marco Buzzoni (2004). Poppers Methodologischer Individualismus Und Die Sozialwissenschaften. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 35 (1):157-173.
Harold Kincaid (1990). Eliminativism and Methodological Individualism. Philosophy of Science 57 (1):141-148.
Harold Kincaid (2006). Evolutionary Social Science Beyond Culture. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (4):356-356.
Added to index2011-05-29
Total downloads10 ( #235,035 of 1,726,249 )
Recent downloads (6 months)4 ( #183,615 of 1,726,249 )
How can I increase my downloads?