Now that complex Agent-Based Models and computer simulations spread over economics and socialsciences - as in most sciences of complex systems -, epistemological puzzles (re)emerge. We introduce new epistemological concepts so as to show to what extent authors are right when they focus on some empirical, instrumental or conceptual significance of their model or simulation. By distinguishing between models and simulations, between types of models, between types of computer simulations and between types of empiricity obtained through (...) a simulation, section 2 gives the possibility to understand more precisely - and then to justify - the diversity of the epistemological positions presented in section 1. Our final claim is that careful attention to the multiplicity of the denotational powers of symbols at stake in complex models and computer simulations is necessary to determine, in each case, their proper epistemic status and credibility. (shrink)
An historical review of authorship definitions and publication practices that are embedded in directions to authors and in the codes of ethics in the fields of psychology, sociology, and education illuminates reasonable agreement and consistency across the fields with regard to (a) originality of the work submitted, (b) data sharing, (c) human participants’ protection, and (d) conflict of interest disclosure. However, the role of the professional association in addressing violations of research or publication practices varies among these fields. Psychology and (...) sociology provide active oversight with sanction authority. In education, the association assumes a more limited role: to develop and communicate standards to evoke voluntary compliance. With respect to authorship credit, each association’s standards focus on criteria for inclusion as an author, other than on the author’s ability to defend and willingness to take responsibility for the entire work. Discussions across a broad range of research disciplines beyond the socialsciences would likely be beneficial. Whether improved standards will reduce either misattribution or perceptions of inappropriate attribution of credit within social science disciplines will likely depend on how well authorship issues are addressed in responsible conduct of research education (RCR), in research practice, and in each association’s ongoing efforts to influence normative practice by specifying and clarifying best practices. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to discuss the “Framework for M&S with Agents” (FMSA) proposed by Zeigler et al. [2000, 2009] in regard to the diverse epistemological aims of agent simulations in socialsciences. We first show that there surely are great similitudes, hence that the aim to emulate a universal “automated modeler agent” opens new ways of interactions between these two domains of M&S with agents. E.g., it can be shown that the multi-level conception at the (...) core of the FMSA is similar in both contexts: notions of “levels of system specifi cation”, “behavior of models”, “simulator”and “endomorphic agents” can be partially translated in the terms linked to the “denotational hierarchy” (DH) and recently introduced in a multi-level centered epistemology of M&S. Second, we suggest considering the question of “credibility” of agent M&S in socialsciences when we do not try to emulate but only to simulate target systems. Whereas a stringent and standardized treatment of the heterogeneous internal relations (in the DH) between systems of formalisms is the key problem and the essential challenge in the scope of Agent M&S driven engineering, it is urgent too to address the problem of the external relations (and of the external validity, hence of the epistemic power and credibility) of such levels of formalisms in the specific domains of agent M&S in socialsciences, especially when we intend to introduce the concepts of activity tracking. (shrink)
Realism in Action is a selection of essays written by leading representatives in the fields of action theory and philosophy of mind, philosophy of the socialsciences and especially the nature of social action, and of epistemology and philosophy of science. Practical reason, reasons and causes in action theory, intending and trying, and folk-psychological explanation are some of the topics discussed by these leading participants. A particular emphasis is laid on trust, commitments and social institutions, on (...) the possibility of grounding social notions in individual social attitudes, on the nature of social groups, institutions and collective intentionality, and on common belief and common knowledge. Applications to the socialsciences include, e.g., a look at the Erklären-Verstehen controversy in economics, and at constructivist and realist views on archeological reconstructions of the past. (shrink)
The Claims of Common Sense investigates the importance of ideas developed by Cambridge philosophers between the World Wars for the socialsciences concerning common sense, vague concepts, and ordinary language. John Coates examines the thought of Moore, Ramsey, Wittgenstein and Keynes, and traces their common drift away from early beliefs about the need for precise concepts and a canonical notation in analysis. He argues that Keynes borrowed from Wittgenstein and Ramsey their reappraisal of vague concepts, and developed the (...) novel argument that when analysing something as complex as social reality, theory might be simplified by using concepts which lack sharp boundaries. Coates then contrasts this conclusion with the view shared by two contemporary philosophical paradigms - formal semantics and Continental post-structuralism - that the vagueness of ordinary language inevitably leads to interpretive indeterminacy. Developing a link between Cambridge philosophy and current work on complexity, vague predicates, and fuzzy logic, he argues that Wittgenstein's and Keynes's ideas on the economy of ordinary language present a mediating route for the socialsciences between these philosophical paradigms. (shrink)
The experience with genetically modified foods has been prominent in motivating science, industry and regulatory bodies to address the social and ethical dimensions of nanotechnology. The overall objective is to gain the general public’s acceptance of nanotechnology in order not to provoke a consumer boycott as it happened with genetically modified foods. It is stated implicitly in reports on nanotechnology research and development that this acceptance depends on the public’s confidence in the technology and that the confidence is created (...) on the basis of information, education, openness and debate about scientific and technological developments. Hence, it is assumed that informing and educating the public will create trust, which will consequently lead to an acceptance of nanotechnology. Thus, the humanities and socialsciences are seen as tools to achieve public acceptance. In this paper, the author argues that this is a narrow apprehension of the role of the humanities and socialsciences. The humanities and socialsciences have a critical function asking fundamental questions and informing the public about these reflections. This may lead to scepticism, however, the motivation for addressing the social and ethical dimensions of nanotechnology should not be public acceptance but informed judgement. The author illustrates this critical function by discussing the role, motivation and contribution of ethics as an example. Lastly, the author shows that a possible strategy for incorporating the humanities and the socialsciences into nanotechnology research and development is Real-Time Technology Assessment, where the purpose is to integrate natural science and engineering investigations with ethical, legal and social science from the outset. (shrink)
This book provides a clear introduction to key philosophical and epistemological issues in the socialsciences, to both positivist and interpretative methodologies through comparing contemporary debates surrounding social change.
This book defends the prospects for a science of society. It argues that behind the diverse methods of the natural sciences lies a common core of scientific rationality that the socialsciences can and sometimes do achieve. It also argues that good social science must be in part about large-scale social structures and processes and thus that methodological individualism is misguided. These theses are supported by a detailed discussion of actual social research, including theories (...) of agrarian revolution, organizational ecology, social theories of depression, and supply-demand explanations in economics. Professor Kincaid provides a general picture of explanation and confirmation in the socialsciences and discusses the nature of scientific rationality, functional explanation, optimality arguments, meaning and interpretation, the place of microfoundations in social explanation, the status of neo-classical economics, the role of idealizations and non-experimental evidence, and other specific controversies. (shrink)
Divided into two parts this book examines the train of social theory from the 19th century, through to the `organization of modernity', in relation to ideas of social planning, and as contributors to the `rationalistic revolution' of the `golden age' of capitalism in the 1950s and 60s. Part two examines key concepts in the socialsciences. It begins with some of the broadest concepts used by social scientists: choice, decision, action and institution and moves on (...) to examine the `collectivist alternative': the concepts of society, culture and polity, which are often dismissed as untenable by postmodernists today. This is a major contribution to contemporary social theory and provides a host of essential insights into the task of social science today. (shrink)
This paper is a response to Henk ten Have's Genetics and Culture: The Geneticization thesis . In it, I refute Ten Have's suggestion that geneticization is not the sort of process that can be measured and commented on in terms of empirical evidence,even if he is correct in suggesting that it should be seen as part of âphilosophical discourseâ. At the end, I relate this discussion to broader debates within bioethics between the social science and philosophy, and suggest the (...) need for philosophical approaches to take the socialsciences seriously. (shrink)
This important volume provides an overview of the history of social, economic, and political thought prior to the development of disciplinary categories in socialsciences. It contextualizes the thought movements in the matrix of pre-modern intellectual traditions as well as the long-range history of society, polity, and economy in modern India. Thematically organized into five sections, the first part examines the evolution of economic thinking in modern India. The next section deals with the discourse of social (...) reform, critical studies of society, and the emergence of academic sociology. The third part highlights the perspectives of the hegemonized and oppressed social groups--the view "from below". The two concluding segments respectively discuss gender and reform movements and the role of political thought in the national movement. Thematically organized into five sections, the first part examines the evolution of economic thinking in modern India. The next section deals with the discourse of social reform, critical studies of society, and the emergence of academic sociology. The third part highlights the perspectives of the hegemonized and oppressed social groups--the view "from below". The two concluding segments respectively discuss gender and reform movements and the role of political thought in the national movement. In spite of its primary historical character, this Project, both in its conceptualization and execution, has been shaped by many scholars drawn from different disciplines. It is for the first time that an endeavor of such a unique and comprehensive character has been undertaken to study critically a major world civilization like India. (shrink)
This volume is a unique contribution to the philosophy of the socialsciences, presenting the results of cutting-edge philosophers' research alongside critical discussions by practicing social scientists. The book is motivated by the view that the philosophy of the socialsciences cannot ignore the specific scientific practices according to which social scientific work is being conducted, and that it will be valuable only if it evolves in constant interaction with theoretical developments in the (...) class='Hi'>socialsciences. With its unique format guaranteeing a genuine discussion between philosophers and social scientists, this thought-provoking volume extends the frontiers of the field. It will appeal to all scholars and students interested in the interplay between philosophy and the socialsciences. (shrink)
Many influential stances within the socialsciences regard nature in one of two ways: either as none of their concern (which is with the social and cultural aspects of human existence), or as wholly a social and cultural fabrication. But there is also another strand of social scientific thinking that seeks to understand the interplay between social and cultural factors on one side and natural factors on the other. These volumes contain the main contributions (...) that have been made within each of these streams of thought. The selections illustrate to the reader the complexity of the various positions within these streams, and the strengths and limitations of each perspective. A new introduction places these articles in their historical and intellectual context and the volumes are completed with an extensive index and chronological table of contents. (shrink)
This is a comprehensive and authoritative reference collection in the philosophy and methodology of the socialsciences. The source materials selected are drawn from debates within the natural sciences as well as social scientific practice. This four volume set covers the traditional literature on the philosophy of the socialsciences, and the contemporary philosophical and methodological debates developing at the heart of the disciplinary and interdisciplinary groups in the socialsciences. It addresses (...) the needs of researchers and academics who are grappling with the relationship between questions of knowledge construction and the problems of social scientific method. (shrink)
In this lucid and engaging introductory volume on the nature of society, Roger Trigg examines the scientific basis of social science and shows that philosophical presuppositions are a necessary starting point for the study of society.
This article examines two empirical research traditions—experimental economics and the social identity approach in social psychology—that may be seen as attempts to falsify and verify the theory of collective intentionality, respectively. The article argues that both approaches fail to settle the issue. However, this is not necessarily due to the alleged immaturity of the socialsciences but, possibly, to the philosophical nature of intentionality and intentional action. The article shows how broadly Davidsonian action theory, including Hacking’s (...) notion of the looping effect of the human sciences, can be developed into an argument for the view that there is no theory-independent true nature of intentional action. If the Davidsonian line of thought is correct, the theory of collective intentionality is, in a sense, true if we accept the theory. Key Words: collective intentionality • experimental economics • social identity theory • Donald Davidson • Ian Hacking • constructivism • action • agency • philosophy of the socialsciences. (shrink)
Zaner, R. M. Eidos and science.--Tiryakian, E. A. Durkheim and Husserl.--Ricoeur, P. Can there be a scientific concept of ideology?--Natanson, M. The problem of anonymity in the thought of Alfred Schutz. -- Dallmayr, F. R. Genesis and validation of social knowledge.
The social, behavioral, and a good chunk of the biological sciences concern the nature of individual agency, where our paradigm for an individual is a human being. Theories of economic behavior, of mental function and dysfunction, and of ontogenetic development, for example, are theories of how such individuals act, and of what internal and external factors are determinative of that action. Such theories construe individuals in distinctive ways.
Possibilities haunt history. The force of our explanations of events turns on the alternative possibilities those explanations suggest. It is these possible worlds that give us our understanding; and in human affairs, we decide them by practical rather than theoretical judgment. In this widely acclaimed account of the role of counterfactuals in explanation, Geoffrey Hawthorn deploys extended examples to defend his argument. His conclusions cast doubt on existing assumptions about the nature and place of theory, and indeed of the possibility (...) of knowledge itself, in the human sciences. (shrink)
This article defends laws in the socialsciences. Arguments against social laws are considered and rejected based on the "open" nature of social theory, the multiple realizability of social predicates, the macro and/or teleological nature of social laws, and the inadequacies of belief-desire psychology. The more serious problem that social laws are usually qualified ceteris paribus is then considered. How the natural sciences handle ceteris paribus laws is discussed and it is argued (...) that such procedures are possible in the socialsciences. The article ends by arguing that at least some social research is roughly as well as confirmed as good work in evolutionary biology and ecology. (shrink)
This article explores the proposal offered by Ian Hacking for the distinction between natural and socialsciences—a proposal that he has defined from the outset as complex and different from the traditional ones. Our objective is not only to present the path followed by Hacking's distinction, but also to determine if it constitutes a novelty or not. For this purpose, we deemed it necessary to briefly introduce the core notions Hacking uses to establish his strategic (...) approach to socialsciences, under the assumption that they are less well known that the ones corresponding to his treatment of natural sciences. Key Words: Ian Hacking • natural sciences • socialsciences • distinction. (shrink)
Simulation techniques, especially those implemented on a computer, are frequently employed in natural as well as in socialsciences with considerable success. There is mounting evidence that the "model-building era" (J. Niehans) that dominated the theoretical activities of the sciences for a long time is about to be succeeded or at least lastingly supplemented by the "simulation era". But what exactly are models? What is a simulation and what is the difference and the relation between a model (...) and a simulation? These are some of the questions addressed in this article. I maintain that the most significant feature of a simulation is that it allows scientists to imitate one process by another process. "Process" here refers solely to a temporal sequence of states of a system. Given the observation that processes are dealt with by all sorts of scientists, it is apparent that simulations prove to be a powerful interdisciplinarily acknowledged tool. Accordingly, simulations are best suited to investigate the various research strategies in different sciences more carefully. To this end, I focus on the function of simulations in the research process. Finally, a somewhat detailed case-study from nuclear physics is presented which, in my view, illustrates elements of a typical simulation in physics. (shrink)
All univocal analyses of causation face counterexamples. An attractive response to this situation is to become a pluralist about causal relationships. "Causal pluralism" is itself, however, a pluralistic notion. In this article, I argue in favor of pluralism about concepts of cause in the socialsciences. The article will show that evidence for, inference from, and the purpose of causal claims are very closely linked. Key Words: causation • pluralism • evidence • methodology.
In this paper I criticize Popper's conception of the rationality principle in the socialsciences. First, I survey Popper's outlook on the role of a principle of rationality in theorizing in the socialsciences. Then, I critically examine his view on the status of the principle of rationality concluding that the arguments supporting it are quite weak. Finally, I contrast his standpoint with an alternative conception. This, I show, helps us understand better Popper's reasons for adopting (...) his perspective on rationality. (shrink)
A recent movement in the socialsciences and philosophy of the socialsciences focuses on mechanisms as a central analytical unit. Starting from a pluralist perspective on the aims of the socialsciences, I argue that there are a number of important aims to which knowledge about mechanismswhatever their virtues relative to other aimscontributes very little at best and that investigating mechanisms is therefore a methodological strategy with fairly limited applicability. Key Words: social (...) science mechanisms explanation critical realism methodology. (shrink)
All three of the books under review Science and Social Science by Malcolm Williams, Rethinking Science by Jan Faye, and Open the SocialSciences by the members of the Gulbenkian Commission on the Restructuring of the SocialSciences (Immanuel Wallerstein, chair)argue for a broadly naturalist approach in which the socialsciences are seen as of a piece with the natural sciences. Fortunately, all three do so in a discriminating way that avoids simple (...) options and that appreciates the important ways the social-scientific disciplines require their own approach. Open the SocialSciences in particular also contains detailed and wise advice as to how the contemporary socialsciences should proceed if they want to fulfill their ambition to explain human social behavior in a scientific way. Key Words: science social science scientific method unity of the sciences reductionism explanation interpretation complexity theory. (shrink)
The dispute between the empiricist and interpretivist conceptions of the socialsciences is properly conceived not as a matter of reduction or covering laws. Features specific to the socialsciences include the following. Explanations of human behavior make reference to intentional causation; social phenomena are permeated with mental components and are self-referential; social science explanations have not been as successful as those in natural science because of their concern with intentional causation, because their explanations (...) must be identical with the propositional content of the mind of the actor, and because a social phenomenon exists only if people believe it exists. Elements of an apparatus necessary to analyze this problematic social ontology are given and include selfreferentiality, constitutive rules, collective intentionality, linguistic permeation of the facts, systematic interrelationships among social facts, and primacy of acts over objects. (shrink)
In this book, Ronald Giere seeks to resolve the opposition between objectivism and constructivism by suggesting a third way, perspectival realism, according to which both sides are partly right. To prove his case, Giere reconstructs some of the acknowledged puzzle pieces in the philosophy of science (theory, observation, etc.). To my mind, of most interest is the piece Giere calls "representional model." Constituting the basis of every science, it functions as a template that governs data collection as well as theory (...) development. Throughout the book, Giere illustrates his various propositions with examples taken from the natural sciences. I contend that the propositions are just as relevant for the socialsciences and present some examples in order to indicate this. Especially, the concept of model is useful both for a better understanding of social science and for increasing its cumulativity. (shrink)
When stripped to the bare bone,there are only 11 foundational paradigms in socialsciences. These foundational paradigms are like flashlights that can be utilized to shed light on different aspects of human society, but each of them can only shed light on a limited area of human society. Different schools in social science result from different but often incomplete combinations of these foundational paradigms. To adequately understand human society and its history, we need to deploy all 11 (...) foundational paradigms, although more limited combinations of them may be adequate for understanding more specific social facts. (shrink)
This article argues that it is possible to bring the socialsciences into evolutionary focus without being committed to a thesis the author calls ontological reductionism, which is a widespread predilection for lower-level explanations. After showing why we should reject ontological reductionism, the author argues that there is a way to construe cultural evolution that does justice to the autonomy of social science explanations. This paves the way for a liberal approach to explanation the author calls explanatory (...) pluralism, which allows for the possibility of explaining cultural phenomena in terms of different evolutionary processes. Key Words: cultural evolution reductionism explanatory pluralism evolutionary psychology. (shrink)
The paper has three aims. First, to show that Julian Reiss' critique of what he calls the New Mechanist Perspective in the socialsciences is built on a number of misconceptions; second, to provide some arguments for the need of reflections and discussions about common and "ultimate" goals for the socialsciences; and third, to suggest a focus on mechanisms as one such viable goal. Key Words: social science goals explanations mechanisms.
It is well known that Ernest Gellner made substantial use of his knowledge of the socialsciences in philosophy. Here I discuss how he used it on the basis of a few examples taken from Gellner’s philosophical output. It is argued that he made a number of highly original “translations”, orre-interpretations, of philosophical theories and problems using his knowledge of the socialsciences. While this method is endorsed, it is also argued that some of Gellner’s translations (...) crossed the line between the original and the idiosyncratic. (shrink)
The two works under review attempt to describe the outlines of a post-positivist social science of the future. Against objectivist approaches, these books emphasize the importance of hermeneutics and the cultural turn to the socialsciences. Socialsciences must recognize collective understandings and human agency. However, while affirming the importance of an interpretivist approach, both of these works also suggest that objective institutional reality must be recognized by social scientists today. Meaningful human agency and (...) objective structure must be encompassed by the socialsciences. To this end, critical realism, originally promoted by Roy Bhaskar, figures prominently in both these books precisely because it is a theory which seems to be able to account for both agency and structure simultaneously. In fact, as both these books sometimes demonstrate, the dualistic approach represented by critical realism is flawed. By contrast, the hermeneutic approach advocated by Keith Topper and by some of the contributors to Steinmetzs collection provides an adequate explanation of institutional social reality in and of itself. Consequently, these books can be interpreted as pointing toward a hermeneutic social science of the future. Key Words: positivism realism hermeneutics structure and agency. (shrink)
I introduce a case study from organization studies to argue that social epistemologists’ recommendation to cultivate diversity and dissent in science is unlikely to be welcomed in the socialsciences unless it is coupled with another epistemic ideal: the norm of epistemic responsibility. The norm of epistemic responsibility enables me to show that organization scholars’ concern with the fragmentation of their discipline is generated by false assumptions: the assumption that a diversity of theoretical approaches will lead to (...) fragmentation and the assumption that an imposed consensus on a theoretical approach is needed to maintain the unity of the discipline. (shrink)
This article argues that a particular notion of rationality, more exactly a specific notion of legitimate inference, is presupposed by much work in the socialsciences to their detriment. The author describes the notion of rationality he has in mind, explains why it is misguided, identifies where and how it affects social research, and illustrates why that research is weaker as a result. The notion of legitimate inference the author has in mind is one that believes inferences (...) are guided by principles that are formal, universal and a priorithat is, that make no substantive, domain-specific empirical assumptions about the world. The author briefly provides a variety of reasons to be skeptical about such principles. Those reasons extend from broad philosophical considerations to quasi-empirical evidence. The author then argues that this notion of inference is involved with both the practice and the content of the socialsciences in various ways. In terms of practice, this notion of inference lies behind the way statistical testing is generally done in the socialsciences. In terms of content, the author argues that this notion of rationality is invoked, for example, in game theory and in rational expectations macroeconomics. In all cases, use of the formal rationality notion leads social scientists to put more faith in their results than is warranted and thus is an obstacle to doing better social science. (shrink)
This article explores the characteristics of research sites that scientists have called “natural experiments” to understand and develop usable distinctions for the socialsciences between “Nature’s or Society’s experiments” and “natural experiments.” In this analysis, natural experiments emerge as the retro-fitting by social scientists of events that have happened in the social world into the traditional forms of field or randomized trial experiments. By contrast, “Society’s experiments” figure as events in the world that happen in circumstances (...) that are already sufficiently “controlled” to be open for direct analysis without reconstruction work. (shrink)
Why would anyone want there to be natural foundations for the socialsciences? In a provocative essay exploring precisely that question, historian Chris Renwick uses an interwar debate featuring William Beveridge, Lancelot Hogben, and Friedrich Hayek to begin to imagine what might have been had such a program calling for biological knowledge to form the natural bases of the socialsciences been realized at the London School of Economics. Yet perhaps Renwick grants too much attention to (...) differences and “what-ifs” and not enough to the historical question of “what happened” afterward. “Chickens and Eggs” offers an alternative view of this rather vexed question—one grounded in what happened, which suggests that Renwick’s concerns may be somewhat misplaced. (shrink)