For science in the social sciences

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 36 (2):227-240 (2006)
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Abstract

All three of the books under review— Science and Social Science by Malcolm Williams, Rethinking Science by Jan Faye, and Open the Social Sciences by the members of the Gulbenkian Commission on the Restructuring of the Social Sciences (Immanuel Wallerstein, chair)—argue for a broadly naturalist approach in which the social sciences 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 Social Sciences in particular also contains detailed and wise advice as to how the contemporary social sciences 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.

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