This paper presents a challenge to the coherence of social constructivism about science. It introduces an objection according to which social constructivism appeals to the authority of science regarding the nature of reality and so cannot coherently deny that authority. The challenge is how to avoid this incoherence.
Research Ethics Committees (RECs) or Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) are rapidly becoming indispensable mechanisms in the overall workings of university institutions. In fact, the ethical dimension is an important aspect of research governance processes present in institutions of higher learning. However, it is often deemed that research in the social sciences do not require ethical appraisal or clearance, because of the alleged absence of harm in conducting such research. This is an erroneous and dangerous assumption given that research in (...)social sciences poses various and complex dilemmas related to ethics. The article aims to gauge the importance of ethical appraisal at a particular institution of higher learning’s Faculty of Humanities. This is done by scrutinising its defunct REC, and the views that Heads of Departments of the Faculty have of ethics in research and the need for ethical appraisal by this REC. Finally, some suggestions are made to proceed to review and restructure the current REC with the ultimate objective to make it functional again. It was found that the development and discussion around ethics in research and ethical appraisal are part of a much needed thrust to sensitise the entire Faculty and the institution on the widespread beneficial repercussions of ethical awareness in research and beyond. (shrink)
This introduction to the philosophy of socialscience provides an original conception of the task and nature of social inquiry. Peter Manicas discusses the role of causality seen in the physical sciences and offers a reassessment of the problem of explanation from a realist perspective. He argues that the fundamental goal of theory in both the natural and social sciences is not, contrary to widespread opinion, prediction and control, or the explanation of events (including behaviour). Instead, (...) theory aims to provide an understanding of the processes which, together, produce the contingent outcomes of experience. Offering a host of concrete illustrations and examples of critical ideas and issues, this accessible book will be of interest to students of the philosophy of socialscience, and social scientists from a range of disciplines. (shrink)
This essay is written in the belief that it is possible to say both where Max Weber's philosophy of socialscience is mistaken and how these mistakes can be put right. Runciman argues that Weber's analysis breaks down at three decisive points: the difference between theoretical pre-suppositions and implicit value-judgements; the manner in which 'idiographic' explanations are to be subsumed under causal laws; and the relation of explanation to description in sociology. The arguments which Weber put forward are (...) fundamental to the methodology of the social sciences, and since his death it has come to be increasingly widely held that with perhaps the sole exception of Mill's System of Logic there is still no other body of work of comparable importance in the academic literature on these topics. Runciman's attempt to correct Weber's mistakes therefore constitutes in itself a valuable contribution to the philosophy of socialscience. (shrink)
In this lucid and engaging introductory volume on the nature of society, Roger Trigg examines the scientific basis of socialscience and shows that philosophical presuppositions are a necessary starting point for the study of society.
The problems dealt with in The Idea of a SocialScience are philosophical. It is an attempt to place the socialscience, considered as a single group, on the intellectual map, with special attention to the relations of the discipline to philosophy on the one hand and the natural sciences on the other. The author holds that the relation between the social sciences and philosophy is commonly misunderstood because of certain fashionable misconceptions about the nature (...) of philosophy, and because of an incorrect assessment of the significance of some of Wittgenstein's contributions. He discusses the influence of the natural sciences on our conception of the social sciences and examines some of the most influential ideas of J.S. Mill, Pareto and Max Weber. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to argue for a conception of critical socialscience based on the model of constitutive rules. The author argues that this model is pragmatically superior to those models that employ notions like "illusion" and " ideology," as it does not demand a specification of the "real (but hidden) interests" of social actors. Key Words: constitutive rules critical theory ideology recommendations social facts.
A hallmark of recent critical socialscience has been the commitment to methodological and theoretical pluralism. Habermas and others have argued that diverse theoretical and empirical approaches are needed to support informed social criticism. However, an unresolved tension remains in the epistemology of critical socialscience: the tension between the epistemic advantages of a single comprehensive theoretical framework and those of methodological and theoretical pluralism. By shifting the grounds of the debate in a way suggested (...) by Dewey's pragmatism, the author argues that a thoroughgoing pluralism strengthens, rather than weakens, both the social scientific and political aims of critical socialscience. Not only does pragmatism offer a plausible interpretation of the epistemic pluralism of the social sciences, but it also provides a way of thinking about their fundamentally practical and political character. With a better normative vocabulary with which to discuss the epistemological issues of such a pluralistic mode of inquiry, the democratic role of critical inquiry and its specifically practical form of verification can be clarified. (shrink)
Philosophy of SocialScience, that social scientific investigations do not and cannot meet the liberal requirement of "neutrality" most familiar to social scientists in the form of Max Weber's requirement of value-freedom. He argues, moreover, that this is for "institutional," not idiosyncratic, reasons: methodological demands (e.g., of validity) impel social scientists to pass along into their "objective" investigations the values of the people, groups, and cultures they are studying. In this paper, I consider the implications (...) of Root's claims for the use of social scientific results in the formation of policy in a democratic society. In particular, I argue that Root's results amplify familiar "post-modernist" conclusions: there is no "neutral" and "objective" basis for policy-making. (shrink)
s book, Hermeneutic Dialogue and SocialScience: A critique of Gadamer and Habermas, intends to present an account of debates on objectivity in the social sciences, in stressing the political and epistemological responsibility, in public spheres, to those who want to create a fairer understanding of societies and history, without demonizing natural enterprises or leaving social studies out of acute critical questioning. Key Words: dialogue hermeneutic social sciences natural sciences method.
So-called grand or paradigmatic theories—structural functionalism, psychoanalysis, Marxism, rational-choice theory—provide their proponents with a conceptual vocabulary and syntax that allows for the classification and configuring of wide ranges of phenomena. Advocates for any particular “analytical grammar” are accordingly prone to conflating the internal coherence of their paradigm—its integrated complex of definitions, axioms, and inferences—with a corresponding capacity for representational verisimilitude. The distinction between Theory-as-heuristic and Theory-as-imposition is of course difficult to negotiate in practice, given that empirical observation and measurement are (...) not entirely “theory neutral” or independent of prior analytical conceptualization. Nonetheless, the scientific cogency of any theory is ultimately evaluated by the substantive realism of its foundational assumptions and categorical designations; that is, the accuracy with which it identifies and tracks the determinant properties and processes of the phenomena to be explicated. The paradigm of sociocultural evolutionism—despite extensive revamping by contemporary proponents—does not carry warrant in this regard, as its recourse to an analytical grammar fashioned and derived from another discipline raises doubts about its empirical veridicality. This article revisits the contentious issue of remodeling social phenomena in accordance with biological categories and offers both a theoretical and a substantive critique of the “selectionist” paradigm. The transdisciplinary program of historical socialscience is affirmed by way of counterpoint. (shrink)
This analysis examines fundamental questions at the intersection of socialscience and social technology as well as problems of disciplinary divisions and the challenge of cross-disciplinary cooperation. Its theoretical-empirical context is provided by post-communist transformations, a set of profound societal changes in which institutional design plays a central role. The article critically reappraises the contribution of Karl Popper's philosophy to this problem context, examines neoliberalism as socialscience and social technology, and examines the role (...) of experts and disciplinary divisions in the reform process. Building on Mario Bunge's social philosophy, it sketches basic elements of a cross-disciplinary approach to "social change by design." Key Words: post-communist transformation social change institutional design Karl Popper Mario Bunge. (shrink)
The claim that conceptual systems change is a platitude. That our conceptual systems are theory-laden is no less platitudinous. Given evolutionary theory, biologists are led to divide up the living world into genes, organisms, species, etc. in a particular way. No theory-neutral individuation of individuals or partitioning of these individuals into natural kinds is possible. Parallel observations should hold for philosophical theories about scientific theories. In this paper I summarize a theory of scientific change which I set out in considerable (...) detail in a book that I shall publish in the near future. Just as few scientists were willing to entertain the view that species evolve in the absence of a mechanism capable of explaining this change, so philosophers should be just as reticent about accepting a parallel view of conceptual systems in science evolving in the absence of a mechanism to explain this evolution. In this paper I set out such a mechanism. One reason that this task has seemed so formidable in the past is that we have all construed conceptual systems inappropriately. If we are to understand the evolution of conceptual systems in science, we must interpret them as forming lineages related by descent. In my theory, the notion of a family resemblance is taken literally, not metaphorically. In my book, I set out data to show that the mechanism which I propose is actually operative. In this paper, such data is assumed. (shrink)
The intersection of ELSI and science forms a complicated nexus yet their integration is an important goal both for society and for the successful advancement of science. In what follows, I present a heuristic that makes boundary identification and crossing an important tool in the discovery of potential areas of ethical, legal, and social concern in science. A dynamic and iterative application of the heuristic can lead towards a fuller integration and appreciation of the concerns of (...) ELSI and of science from both sides of the divide. (shrink)
The mechanism-realist paradigm in the philosophy of science, championed by Mario Bunge and Roy Bhaskar, sets certain expectations for the substantive social-scientific application of the paradigm. To evaluate the application of the paradigm in accomplished substantive research, as well as the potential for future research, I examine the work of Charles Tilly, the exemplary substantive work in the mechanism-realist tradition. Based on this examination, I argue for the usefulness of explanatory mechanisms, provided that they are couched in terms (...) of a heuristic. Such a position is the most reasonable one to adopt given the expectations set by the paradigm in relation to complexity stemming from mechanism interaction and to a notion of causality that is deeper than that acknowledged by empiricism and positivism. (shrink)
Chris Renwick’s recent research into the fate of William Beveridge’s attempt to establish social biology as the foundational socialscience at the London School of Economics is history at its best by uncovering a moment in the past when decisions were taken comparable to ones being taken today. In this case, the issues concern the political and scientific foundations of the welfare state. By connecting Beveridge’s original reasoning to recruit Lancelot Hogben for the Rockefeller-sponsored social biology (...) chair with his later formative role in the design of the British welfare state, we are able to witness an alternative vision of the left, one associated with the Fabian movement, which proceeded independently of its Marxist cousin. The Fabian focus on taxing “inheritance” in the broadest sense remains relevant to how we think about the human condition in an era when capitalism has come to encompass the ownership of genetic material. (shrink)
In the classic study Little science, big science (New York: Columbia University Press, 1963), Derek Price traces the historical shift from what he calls little science?exemplified by early?modern ?invisible colleges? of scientific amateurs and enthusiasts engaged in small?scale, informal interactions and personal correspondence?to 20th?century big science, dominated by professional scientists and wealthy institutions, where scientific information (primarily in print form and its analogues) was mass?produced, marketed and circulated on a global scale. This article considers whether the (...) growing use of more participatory, interactive ?Web 2.0? technologies and social media in science today (e.g. wikis, blogs, tagging and bookmarking, conferencing, etc.) may signal a revival of little science modes of communication that contrast with big science conventions that continue to dominate research policy, scientific institutions, and the publishing industry. A brief historical review of responses to the scientific ?information explosion? since the early 1900s is presented, with a particular focus on the idealization of large?scale, automated information systems and the privileging of formal (document?producing) over informal (interpersonal) modes of scientific communication. Alternative frameworks for scientific communication that incorporate both documents and interaction are used to examine contemporary examples of so?called Science 2.0 and citizen science projects to determine whether such projects indicate the emergence of new modes of communication in science that bridge the immediacy and involvement of invisible colleges and the rigor of peer?reviewed publishing. The implications for traditional documentary forms such as the journal article are also discussed. (shrink)
In The Idea of a SocialScience Winch, argues that, sociology is more properly conceived as a branch of philosophy than of empirical science. Winch falls victim here to the Humean assimilation of the empirical to the generalizable. He notes that much of our talk about social practice is in terms of conventions, so that explanations of social action can be given without recourse to statistical or experimental findings. But such talk depends nonetheless on the (...) accuracy and detail with which the situations in which actions occur are? recorded, and this is surely an empirical enterprise. It is the misleading conception of sociology as a discipline, characterized by common procedures, that leads Winch to espouse the assimilation of sociology to conceptual inquiry. We need to see instead that sociology embraces a group of questions and subjects so loosely connected that it would be mistaken to speak of, and idle to project, a procedure common to all of them. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to investigate how we can reunite social philosophy and philosophy of science to address problems in science and technology. First, referring to Don Howard?s, George Reisch?s, and Philip Mirowski?s works, I shall briefly explain how philosophy of science was depoliticised during the cold war. Second, I shall examine Steve Fuller?s criticism of Thomas Kuhn. Third, I shall scrutinise Philip Kitcher?s view of well-ordered science. Fourth, I shall emphasise the importance (...) of autonomy and argue that philosophy of science needs to cultivate a critical attitude towards authority. Fifth, drawing upon Ian Jarvie?s social reading of Karl Popper, I shall argue that Popper?s philosophy can be a model for reuniting social philosophy and philosophy of science. (shrink)
This essay presents a reading of the work of two central figures of modern social theory that locates their work within not simply mainstream Jewish thought, but a particular Hasidic tradition. Further, I argue that lying behind this, in a repressed form, is an even older tradition of Jewish alchemy. I make no claim to have evidence that either Freud or Durkheim were directly influenced by Hasidism or alchemy, but I examine the parallels between the structure of their thoughts (...) and those of the two traditions. Both Freud and Durkheim display a social psychology that is analytically similar to the dualism of Hasidism's Tanya and the general transformational models of alchemy. This formal model is in opposition to the messianic tradition in Jewish thought and analyzes Freud and Durkheim as anti messianic social psychologists. Hasidism offers a template for modern theories of social psychology, social interaction and the relation between the social and the individual, that is, collective identity. This essay also considers more generally how modern social theory might make sense of contemporary social phenomena by opening itself to the messianic and mystical traditions in Jewish thought. I suggest that the social and structural transformation associated with the information or network society requires new analytic tools that allow us to explain social energy differently to the way Freud and Durkheim have guided social theory. Contemporary analyses of individualization, social movements and sacralization as forms of and reactions to alienation are inadequate. Instead, I ask whether we should not 'restore a messianic, truly utopian "lost unity", which the alchemical, secular gnosis of modern socialscience displaced, and so renew social theory?'. (shrink)
Peter Winch’s 1958 book The Idea of a SocialScience contains two distinguishable sets of theses, one set bearing on the individual-level understanding of human beings, the other on the society-level understanding of the regularities and institutions to which human beings give rise. The first set of claims is persuasive and significant but the second is a mixed bunch: none is well established and only some are sound.
Explanatory pluralism has been defended by several philosophers of history and socialscience, recently, for example, by Tor Egil Førland in this journal. In this article, we provide a better argument for explanatory pluralism, based on the pragmatist idea of epistemic interests. Second, we show that there are three quite different senses in which one can be an explanatory pluralist: one can be a pluralist about questions, a pluralist about answers to questions, and a pluralist about both. We (...) defend the last position. Finally, our third aim is to argue that pluralism should not be equated with “anything goes”: we will argue for non-relativistic explanatory pluralism. This pluralism will be illustrated by examples from history and socialscience in which different forms of explanation (for example, structural, functional, and intentional explanations) are discussed, and the fruitfulness of our framework for understanding explanatory pluralism is shown. (shrink)
Textbook descriptions of the foundations of Genetics give the impression that besides Mendel’s no other research on heredity took place during the nineteenth century. However, the publication of the Origin of Species in 1859, and the criticism that it received, placed the study of heredity at the centre of biological thought. Consequently, Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin himself, Francis Galton, William Keith Brooks, Carl von Nägeli, August Weismann, and Hugo de Vries attempted to develop theories of heredity under an evolutionary perspective, (...) and they were all influenced by each other in various ways. Nonetheless, only Nägeli became aware of Mendel’s experimental work; it has also been questioned whether Mendel even had the intention to develop a theory of heredity. In this article, a short presentation of these theories is made, based on the original writings. The major aim of this article is to suggest that Mendel was definitely not the only one studying heredity before 1900, if he even did this, as may be inferred by textbooks. Although his work had a major impact after 1900, it had no impact during the latter half of the nineteenth century when an active community of students of heredity emerged. Thus, textbooks should not only present the work of Mendel, but also provide a wider view of the actual history and a depiction of science as a social process. (shrink)
Over the years, a number of interpreters with an interest in economics have given some attention the work of Alfred Schutz. As intimated in this literature, the orientation of his delimited thought on economics stemmed from contacts with the Austrian school during his Vienna years. Probably because of this connection, there exists among these interpreters an inclination uncritically to align Schutz with the Austrians' thought. What will be argued in this paper is that in adopting such an uncritical position, each (...) of these readings fails adequately to situate Schutz's critique of economic analyses within the framework of his own social theory. It will become apparent that his treatment of economics turned out to be a mixture of defence and critique, and that his interpretation of the subject and the intellectual status he ascribed to it were considerably more ambivalent and ambiguous than has been noticed. In particular, Schutz expressed significant reservations about the highly circumscribed and artificial depictions of the world of human action that some economists espoused, especially within the confines of marginalist theory. When arraigned against the phenomenology of the life-world that he had developed, and against the "postulates" around which he had constructed his social theory, much of extant economics did not meet the requirements of a properly grounded socialscience. (shrink)
This paper articulates the commitments, contours and justifications for a pluralist but non-eclectic critical, realist, reflexive socialscience with emancipatory aims. In it, we stress that socialscience can and should be used to guide the conceptualization of desirable and viable forms of social organization and their conditions of realization. In this regard, we advocate explanatory theorizing as an ethical duty of social scientists and as a moral good in itself as well as being (...) an inherent epistemological component of scientific practice. This entails that we take seriously the research strategies apposite to our disciplinary, intertextual and interdiscursive locations to make a serious theoretical case and practical case for the kind of socialscience here advocated. In our view, such a socialscience must acknowledge the path-breaking work of Roy Bhaskar, but must also recognize that the arguments deployed in texts as a resource in intellectual work can never be treated as the axiomatic grounds for further thought, but must be interrogated thoroughly and in each case what is to be retained must be defensible. No position has a monopoly of relevant insights and the development of science often involves syntheses. Syntheses must not be syncretic but reflexively interrogated to assess epistemological, ontological and conceptual coherence to avoid eclecticism. Development in critical realist philosophy will, we believe, continue to confront and offer plausible resolutions to a range of battles within and pertinent to philosophy and social-scientific metatheory. However, realists must recognize the continuing importance and discursive effects of a variety of critical and realist work in being able to defend, sustain and develop rigorous social-scientific research with emancipatory commitments. (shrink)
New branches of socialscience primarily engaging the “internet revolution” are appearing alongside mainstream research and journals such as Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking are providing social scientists with an outlet of peer-reviewed research. HPS scholars will find new methodologies and the relation of technology to socialscience of particularly interest. Social scientists are becoming increasingly interested in virtual realities (see Milburn (Spontaneous Generations 2008, 63)) and are declaring time spent “in-game” ethnographic research. (...) William Sims Bainbridge boasts 2300+ hours (approximately 96 days) of ethnographic research into a virtual world he calls “The Warcraft Civilization.” Blizzard Entertainment reported in a December 2008 press release that World of Warcraft (WoW), its extraordinarily successful 2004 massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) comprised 11.5 million subscribers worldwide . In order to accommodate player demand, Blizzard uses hundreds of servers, artfully called realms, each running an instance of WoW for subscribers to play on. There are four types of realms: normal or player-versus-environment (PvE) realms, player-versus-player (PvP) realms, role-playing (RP) realms, and role-playing player-versus-player (RP-PvP) realms. The most popular realms are PvE and PvP; players on RP and RP-PvP realms are meant to “live” in WoW and therefore must adhere to role-playing policies such as remaining “in-character” of the avatar they have selected. (shrink)
The question, "Is medicine a socialscience?" can be understood in three different ways. One interpretation suggests that medicine is merely a socialscience, which is obviously false. Another interpretation is that medicine might be in part a socialscience. The third interpretation of the question is, "Is the social scientific dimension of medicine very important?" Three claims are considered about the social scientific dimension of medicine. Although these claims are shown to (...) be untrue, they nevertheless call attention to neglected aspects of medicine. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Marjorie Shostak's ethnography, Nisa: The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman, is analyzed as a case study of feminist socialscience. Three principles of feminist research are suggested as standards for evaluation. After discussion of the principles and analysis of the text, I raise a criticism of the principles as currently sketched. The entire project is framed by the question of how best to resolve conflict between researcher and participant accounts.
The branch of clinical medicine most likely to qualify as a socialscience is family medicine. Whether family medicine is a socialscience is addressed in four steps. First, the nature of family medicine is outlined. Second, the extent to which socialscience knowledge is used in family practice is discussed. Third, the extent to which family medicine can qualify as a socialscience is considered with respect to an orthodox model of (...) the social sciences, that is, one that emphasizes affinities between the natural and social sciences. Finally, the same question is addressed with respect to an unorthodox model of the social sciences, that is, one that stresses the evaluative nature of the social sciences. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
In the present essay we propose explore a situated approach to knowledge, the action and the discourse; analyzing some of its theoretical and epistemological implications for the qualitative research in socialscience. First, based on notions of background and articulation, we propose one theoretical scheme about knowledge as "situated action". Secondly, we analyze the implications of this theoretical approach, in the conceptual perspective of discourse, and then in the methodological field, on the ways of implementing the qualitative (...) class='Hi'>social research practices. En el presente ensayo nos proponemos explorar una perspectiva situada del conocimiento, la acción y el discurso, analizando algunas de sus principales implicancias teóricas y epistemológicas para la investigación cualitativa en ciencias sociales. En primer lugar, pretendemos desarrollar un esquema teórico sobre el conocimiento como "acción situada" a partir de nociones como trasfondo y articulación. En segundo lugar, nos proponemos analizar las implicancias de esta perspectiva teórica, en el plano conceptual sobre la noción de discurso, y en el plano metodológico sobre las formas de implementar las prácticas cualitativas de investigación social. (shrink)
Zachary Schrag would like to put the burden of proof for continuation of research ethics review in the Social Sciences on those who advocate for research ethics committees (RECs), and asks that we take the concerns that he raises seriously. I separate his concerns into a principled issue and a number of pragmatic issues. The principled issue concerns the justification for having research ethics committees; the pragmatic issues concern questions such as the effectiveness of review and the expertise of (...) the committee members. I argue that RECs can be justified by their role in improving ethical practice and in reducing wrongs done to research participants. I propose a model of review for doing this, which I think would also address the pragmatic issues raised. I then offer an account of where the UK ethics review system is now and suggest three steps which could improve socialscience ethics review in the UK and move it in a perhaps more desirable direction. (shrink)
The authors use socialscience methodology to determine whether a doctrinal shift—from an objectivist view of criminality in the common law to a subjectivist view in modem criminal codes—is consistent with lay intuitions of the principles of justice. Commentators have suggested that lay perceptions of criminality have shifted in a way reflected in the doctrinal change, but the study results suggest a more nuanced conclusion: that the modern lay view agrees with the subjectivist view of modern codes in (...) defining the minimum requirements of criminality, but prefers the common law's objectivist view of grading the punishment deserved. The authors argue that there is practical value in having criminal law track shared community intuitions of the proper rules for assigning liability and punishment. For that reason, the study results support the often criticized subjectivist view of modern codes in setting the minimum requirements of liability, but disapprove of the modern codes' shift away from the common law's objectivist view of grading. (shrink)
In recent years, many researchers engaged in diverse areas and approaches of “cultural-historical activity theory” (CHAT) realized an increasing international interest in Lev S. Vygotsky’s, A. N. Leont’ev’s, and A. Luria’s work and its continuations. Not so long ago, Yrjö Engeström noted that the activity approach was still “the best-held secret of academia” (p. 64) and highlighted the “impressive dimension of theorizing behind” it. Certainly, this remark reflects a time when CHAT was off the beaten tracks. But if this situation (...) begins to change today, in which direction will CHAT be heading? Will it continue to be one of those projects “unique for its practical, political, and civic engagement” committed “to ideals of social justice, equality, and social change” as it was in the beginning (Stetsenko & Arievitch, 2004, p. 58)? Although a positive future of CHAT seems to lie ahead, we consider in this article some of the problematics that may challenge all those who want to pass the “impressive dimensions of theorizing” from “insider” circles to a larger audience and from one generation to another as well as encourage newcomers to become part of this tradition through critical engagement in its theory and practice. A key to these engagements, we suggest, is not only the comprehensive empirical and philosophical basis, but also the role of dialectics as both topic and method. Therefore, the challenge for newcomers (as well as for “old-timers”) to take on the tradition of CHAT is not a small one indeed. We assume that a major reason for the increasing interest in CHAT lies in its potential to provide a non-reductionist approach to human development, which is due to its affinity to dialectics; however, the close interrelation to a tradition that reaches back to the theories of Georg W.F. Hegel and Karl Marx, among others, is not the easiest to master. In consideration of these difficulties, the purpose of this article is to investigate how contemporary approaches within CHAT can continue to provide a dialectical framework to preserve and renew the critical intention of this tradition, and how we run the risk of losing this sting. Thereby, we sensitize researchers to the problem of developing a cultural-historical approach within a historical situation that confronts us with new, unanswered questions. In this light, we also problematize the use of scientific language, for it may lead us to speak and argue un-dialectically when in fact we intend or ought to think dialectically. This article seeks to convey insights and arguments of how we can relate our theoretical approaches to a tradition of dialectical thinking and in what ways this is paramount for a critical engagement in theory and practice. In the first part, we therefore discuss not only some major theorems in Hegel’s and Marx’s work but also, and above all, Vygotsky’s way of developing the cultural-historical approach of psychology. Second, we argue that the contemporary, widely known version of CHAT, related to Yrjö Engeström’s theoretical and empirical work, neglects different aspects of dialectical thinking and consequently narrows its potential to a socio-critical approach to societal practice and human development. A crucial question of this scrutiny will be the notion of contradictions and how development is supposed to be achieved. In general, our intention is not only to clarify the role of dialectics as a method for activity theory but also to problematize the role of the subjects of research in CHAT and to confront ourselves with the problems of practicing and developing a critical science in face of a complex and challenging societal world. (shrink)
The second edition of this guide to Adam Smith's system of thought has been fully updated to reflect recent developments in Smith scholarship and Professor Skinner's experience of teaching Smith to a student audience. The material from the first edition has been extensively rewritten, and four new chapters have been added, covering Smith's essays on the exercise of human understanding, and his relationship to Francis Hutcheson, David Hume, and Sir James Steuart. -/- Professor Skinner places Smith's system of social, (...) and moral, science firmly within the context of contemporary British and Continental intellectual history, dealing in particular detail with the founders of the Scottish Enlightenment and with the French Physiocrats. A close reading of a broad range of texts, supported by a deep knowledge of contemporary institutional history, suggests the patters of their influence through the various recensions of Smith's extant works. The essays similarly explore Smith's own reception among his peers and successors. -/- The essays in this volume have been developed from Professor Skinner's lecture course on `The Age and Ideas of Adam Smith', taught to senior undergraduate and graduate students in political economy. Their relevance extends out to students of economic history, philosophy, and the history of ideas in the eighteenth century, as well as to all those involved in the study of Adam Smith. Each essay can be read as a self-contained unit, supported by a full bibliography and notes; the book as a whole expounds a single coherent argument which demonstrates how Smith's works are inter-related. (shrink)
Philosophers of science seek to discover theessential features of science. Having donethis, these features are then proffered as a`benchmark' against which any putative sciencecan be assessed for its scientificity. Socialscientists, in particular, are much concernedwith achieving the status of genuine science.When considering the status of the socialsciences, philosophers of science also seek todiscern the essential, and differentiating,characteristics of the object of study, namely,social phenomena as such. This paper provides acritical examination of two apparentlydiametrically opposed approaches (...) to philosophyof science, namely, realism and pragmatism. Thestance of `immanent critique' is adopted. Thisstance seeks to evaluate the success of aphilosophical programme entirely by thestandards that are internal to that programme.The conclusion reached, from this point ofview, is that realism is unrealistic, andpragmatism lacks practical utility. (shrink)
The need to make young scientists aware of their social responsibilities is widely acknowledged, although the question of how to actually do it has so far gained limited attention. A 2-day workshop entitled “Prepared for social responsibility?” attended by doctoral students from multiple disciplines in climate science, was targeted at the perceived needs of the participants and employed a format that took them through three stages of ethics education: sensitization, information and empowerment. The workshop aimed at preparing (...) doctoral students to manage ethical dilemmas that emerge when climate science meets the public sphere (e.g., to identify and balance legitimate perspectives on particular types of geo-engineering), and is an example of how to include social responsibility in doctoral education. The paper describes the workshop from the three different perspectives of the authors: the course teacher, the head of the graduate school, and a graduate student. The elements that contributed to the success of the workshop, and thus make it an example to follow, are (1) the involvement of participating students, (2) the introduction of external expertise and role models in climate science, and (3) a workshop design that focused on ethical analyses of examples from the climate sciences. (shrink)