The Philosophy of Sociology refers to the use of philosophical thought to critique or clarify the discipline of sociology in either its academic form or intellectual content. With regards to the academic form of sociology, there is philosophical questioning of (1) the coherence of a discipline bound by a theory of society and its proper delineation from other historically related fields (e.g. economics, anthropology); (2) applications of the demarcation problem in philosophy of science — whether sociology yields scientific knowledge, or whether it should be oriented towards doing so. With regards to the intellectual content of sociology, various lines of philosophical thought (e.g. epistemological, ontological, ethical) are used in the construction, interpretation, and modification of conceptual, theoretical, and methodological frameworks central to sociology. Predominant issues of concern among philosophers who assess the content of sociology include, thematically, notions of modernity, culture, collective-intentionality, social structures and practices, and forms of social reasoning. The philosophical study of sociology is reciprocated by and closely linked with the sociological study of a central philosophical concept, knowledge. Here sociologists address the impact of social relations, processes, and institutions on knowledge, both in the generic sense ('Sociology of Knowledge') and in the scientific sense ('Sociology of Science'). Understanding social influences on knowledge in either of these senses may generally enrich understanding of knowledge-claims or more specifically inform solutions to problems of delineation and demarcation.
|Key works||Frisby & Sayer 1986 reviews the dependence of sociology's development on theories of society while Urry 2000 argues for the discipline to move beyond such dependence. Gieryn 1983 argues that the boundaries of scientific status for disciplines (incl. sociology) are fluid while Collins 1989 defends sociological knowledge as a candidate for science. Philosophical inquiry into core sociological concepts is ubiquitous; systematic works worth highlighting are Sewell Jr 2005 (pp. 152-174) on culture, Reich 2010 on intersubjectivity, and Turner 1990 on modernity and post-modernity.|
|Introductions||Turner's introduction to Turner & Risjord 2006 (pp. 3-69) illustrates some main ways sociology has been implicated in philosophical discussion from the time of its founding. For introductory analysis of important concepts in sociology, I recommend relevant installments of the Routledge 'Key ideas in Sociology' series (e.g. Jenkins 2014 on social identity, Field 2017 on social capital, or Jenks 2005 on culture).|
Material to categorize
Philosophy of Sociology, Misc
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David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
Darrell P. Rowbottom
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