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 socialresearch, 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)
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)
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)
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 socialsciences 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 socialsciences 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 paper seeks to provide a broad overview of the historical, contemporary, and future roles of the rural socialsciences. This overview is preceded by a brief elaboration of a model of the social, political, and economic structure of experiment station research organizations which is helpful in identifying the particular types of agricultural and socialsciencesresearch that have tended to be conducted in land-grant institutions. Agricultural economics and rural sociology are given particular (...) emphasis in the next section of the paper which discusses the history and current state of the rural socialsciences as disciplines. The prospective roles of five “nontraditional” rural socialsciences—history, anthropology, political science, geography, and philosophy—in land-grant research programs are also discussed. The final sections of the paper assess major problems in, and recommended solutions for bolstering, the role of the socialsciences in the land-grant system. (shrink)
In Brazil, social science research ethics is a field still under construction and subject to intense dispute. The aim of this paper is to discuss how accepted principles of biomedical research ethics can be incorporated into the ethical review of socialsciences, particularly open interviews, ethnographic research, and participant observation. The paper uses a case study—the ethnographic documentary "Severina's Story"—as the basis for analysis of the methodological and ethical issues raised in social science (...)research. To promote ethical social science research, based on principles such as human rights and the protection of vulnerable populations, institutional review boards must be sensitive to the epistemological and methodological particularities of all fields of human subjects research. (shrink)
A strong parallel exists between current research methodologies in the socialsciences and the two most central and popular approaches to aesthetics over the last four centuries. The point of this paper is to show this parallel, to demonstrate the importance and relevance of this parallel, and finally to examine ways of deciding, given this parallel between research methodologies and aesthetic approaches, which research methodology in a given context is the better.
Certain critical accounts of conventional research practices in business and the socialsciences are explored in this essay. These accounts derive from alternative social paradigms and their underlying assumptions about appropriate social inquiry and knowledge construction. Among these alternative social paradigms, metatheories, mindscapes, or worldviews are social constructionist, critical, feminist, and postmodern or poststructural thinking. Individuals with these assumptions and values for knowledge construction are increasingly challenging conventional scholarship in what has been referred (...) to as paradigm debates or wars. Issues of incommensurability or cross-paradigmatic communication potentials, as well as reflexivity, are raised in terms of moral education and development potentials for applied social science fields. Barriers and suggestions for increased moral development in academic and professional communities are discussed. In particular, moral forums in which participants have enhanced intrapersonal and interpersonal communication skills appear to be needed to surface and share often taken-for-granted assumptions concerning moral knowledge construction. (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)
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 volume constitutes a lucid introduction to methodology in socialresearch. It will enable social science researchers trained in a particular field to look beyond and relate to other methodological domains.
Deception of subjects is used frequently in the socialsciences. Examples are provided. The ethics of experimental deception are discussed, in particular various maneuvers to solve the problem. The results have implications for the use of deception in the biomedical sciences.
Policy makers call upon researchers from the natural and socialsciences to collaborate for the responsible development and deployment of innovations. Collaborations are projected to enhance both the technical quality of innovations, and the extent to which relevant social and ethical considerations are integrated into their development. This could make these innovations more socially robust and responsible, particularly in new and emerging scientific and technological fields, such as synthetic biology and nanotechnology. Some researchers from both fields have (...) embarked on collaborative research activities, using various Technology Assessment approaches and Socio-Technical Integration Research activities such as Midstream Modulation. Still, practical experience of collaborations in industry is limited, while much may be expected from industry in terms of socially responsible innovation development. Experience in and guidelines on how to set up and manage such collaborations are not easily available. Having carried out various collaborative research activities in industry ourselves, we aim to share in this paper our experiences in setting up and working in such collaborations. We highlight the possibilities and boundaries in setting up and managing collaborations, and discuss how we have experienced the emergence of ‘collaborative spaces.’ Hopefully our findings can facilitate and encourage others to set up collaborative research endeavours. (shrink)
Despite significant ethical advances in recent years, including professional developments in ethical review and codification, research deception continues to be a pervasive practice and contentious focus of debate in the behavioral sciences. Given the disciplines' generally stated ethical standards regarding the use of deceptive procedures, researchers have little practical guidance as to their ethical acceptability in specific research contexts. We use social contract theory to identify the conditions under which deception may or may not be morally (...) permissible and formulate practical recommendations to guide researchers on the ethical employment of deception in behavioral science research. (shrink)
This Alfred Schutz Memorial Lecture discusses the relationship between the phenomenological life-world analysis and the methodology of the socialsciences, which was the central motive of Schutz’s work. I have set two major goals in this lecture. The first is to scrutinize the postulate of adequacy, as this postulate is the most crucial of Schutz’s methodological postulates. Max Weber devised the postulate ‘adequacy of meaning’ in analogy to the postulate of ‘causal adequacy’ (a concept used in jurisprudence) and (...) regarded both as complementary and, in the context of sociological analysis, critical. Schutz extracted the two postulates from the Neokantian epistemology, dismissed the concept of causality, and reduced Weber’s two postulates of adequacy into one, namely, the adequacy of meaning. I discuss the benefits and shortcomings of this reduction. A major problem, in my view, is that Schutz’s reformulation lost the empirical concern that was inherent in Weber’s ‘causal adequacy’. As a result, the models of economics (which shaped Schutz’s conception of social science) are considered to be adequate if they are ‘understandable’ to an everyday actor, even when they are based on the most unrealistic assumptions. To recapture Weber’s empirical orientation I recommend a more restrictive interpretation of the postulate of adequacy that links it to qualitative research and unfolds the critical potential of Schutz’s phenomenological life-world analysis. My second goal is to report on some current developments in German sociology in which a number of approaches explicitly refer to Schutz’s analysis of the life-world and attempt to pursue ‘adequate’ empirical research. This lecture focuses on three approaches: ethnophenomenology, life-world analytic ethnography, and social scientific hermeneutics. (shrink)
Purpose: Several accounts like Ernst von Glasersfeld's Who Conceives of Society? (2008) locate empirical research in the socialsciences and radical constructivism in almost parallel universes. The main purpose of this paper is to argue for more inter-active relations and to stress the importance of establishing weak, medium and strong ties between radical constructivism and empirical socialresearch in general. Findings: The article shows that that weak, medium and strong ties between radical constructivism and empirical (...)research in the socialsciences can be established. Moreover, these weak, medium and strong ties play a crucial role for increasing and maintaining the relevance of radical constructivism within the socialsciences and for contributing to the viability of radical constructivism in the long run. Implications: The most important consequence for radical constructivism lies in a new research agenda. In the course of this article weak, medium and strong ties to empirical research have been specified specifically and exclusively for the socialsciences. But these specific links cannot be simply generalized or transferred to other disciplinary fields outside the socialsciences. Since interactive links between radical constructivism and empirical research are currently missing in practically all disciplines, these weak, medium and strong links, as a new RC-agenda, have to be developed separately for each major scientific research arena. (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 (...)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)
Whats human rights got to do with it? That is, whats human rights got to do with the June 2004 report of the SocialSciences and Humanities Research Ethics Special Working Committee to the Inter-Agency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics. The disturbing answer is not enough. Certain key recommendations of the working committee, it is suggested, would unacceptably weaken the researchers legal and moral accountability to research participants. Those particular recommendations rely on misguided references to (...) academic freedom and the nature of the non-medical research context. In fact, universal human rights, and the legal instruments in which they are embodied ought to inform the research endeavor at every stage; from problem selection to analysis and conclusions. This will lead us closer to shared truths rather than simply to the academic elites vision of truth. Without sufficient regard for the human rights of research participants academic freedom itself is not possible. (shrink)
Funding agencies in Canada are attempting to break down the organizational boundaries between disciplines to promote interdisciplinary research and foster the integration of the socialsciences into the health research field. This paper explores the extent to which biomedical and clinician scientists’ perceptions of social science research operate as a cultural boundary to the inclusion of social scientists into this field. Results indicated that cultural boundaries may impede social scientists’ entry into the (...) health research field through three modalities: (1) biomedical and clinician scientists’ unfavourable and ambivalent posture towards social science research; (2) their opposition to a resource increase for the socialsciences; and (3) clinician scientists procedural assessment criteria for social science. The paper also discusses the merits and limitations of Tom Gieryn’s concept of boundary-work for studying social dynamics within the field of science. (shrink)
Philosophical considerations and positions underlie all of the natural and socialsciences. In the latter case philosophical foundations and their emergent issues have a profound impact on methodology and empirical practice. Design decisions will usually depend on philosophical perspectives or assumptions, such as the very fundamental decision to employ a quantitative design or an interpretive design. The 'philosophy of socialresearch' is thus a subset of the philosophy of social science, but also an important subject (...) area that spans methodology and method. The articles making up this timely collection are the best exemplars of key positions in a very wide disciplinary field. The selection is designed to begin each section with an 'entry level' article to introduce the reader to the topic area and to ground the approach a research problem. Topics covered include science and art in the history of socialresearch, positivism and antipositivism, language and the linguistic turn, realism and anti-realism, theory and theory choice, logic and models, prediction and laws, interpretation, probability and complexity. With the study of the philosophical foundations of methods and methodology gaining increasing priority in university courses, this will be a valuable resource for academics and researchers across the socialsciences. (shrink)
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)
Zachary Schrag would like to put the burden of proof for continuation of research ethics review in the SocialSciences 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 social science ethics review in the UK and move it in a perhaps more desirable direction. (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)
Empirical adequacy is a central notion in van Fraassen's empiricist view of science. I argue that van Fraassen's account of empirical adequacy in terms of a partial isomorphism between certain structures in some model(s) of the theory and certain actual structures (the observables) in the world, is untenable. The empirical adequacy of a theory can only be tested in the context of an accepted practice of observation. But because the theory itself does not determine the correct practice of observation, its (...) failure to pass the test does not show the failure of an isomorphism between the empirical substructure of some model(s) of the theory and observable structures in nature. Further, because the choice of a practice of observation is a pragmatic one grounded in epistemic goals we seek in observation, van Fraassen's anthropocentric view of observability is epistemically unmotivated. (shrink)
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)
Research in the socialsciences often relies upon the motivation and goodwill of research participants (e.g., teachers, students, minimally-compensated volunteers) to do their best on low stakes assessments of the effects of interventions. Research participants who are unmotivated to perform well can engage in random responding on outcome measures, which can cause substantial mis-estimation of results, biasing results toward the null hypothesis. Data from a recent educational intervention study served as a clear example of this (...) problem: participants identified as random responders showed substantially lower scores than other participants on tests during the study, and failed to show growth in scores from pre- to posttest, while those not engaging in random responding showed much higher scores and significant growth over time. This served to mask the hypothesized group differences across instructional method when random responders were retained in the sample (anticipated group differences were significant when these random responders were removed). We remind researchers to screen their data for random responding (and other response biases) in their critical outcome measures in order to improve the odds of detecting effects of their interventions. (shrink)
It is argued that future research capacity building for the socialsciences needs to incorporate methods to accelerate the acquisition by researchers of holistic expertise relevant to their roles as researchers and as developers of others. An agenda is presented, based on a model of learning that highlights missing elements of current provision, and two approaches currently under development are described.
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 socialresearch is roughly as well as confirmed as good work in evolutionary biology and ecology. (shrink)