Contextualism, explanation and the social sciences

Philosophical Explorations 7 (3):201 – 218 (2004)
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Debates about explanation in the social sciences often proceed without any clear idea what an 'account' of explanation should do. In this paper I take a stance - what I will call contextualism - that denies there are purely formal and conceptual constraints on explanation and takes standards of explanation to be substantive empirical claims, paradigmatically claims about causation. I then use this standpoint to argue for position on issues in the philosophy of social science concerning reduction, idealized models, social mechanisms, functional explanations, inference to the best explanation and interpretive understanding.



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Citations of this work

Concrete Ontology: Comments on Lauer, Little, and Lohse.Harold Kincaid - 2021 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 51 (1):40-47.
Causation in the sciences: An inferentialist account.Julian Reiss - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (4):769-777.

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References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
Nature's capacities and their measurement.Nancy Cartwright - 1989 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 1991 - London and New York: Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.
The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science.Nancy Cartwright - 1999 - New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
Elusive knowledge.David K. Lewis - 1996 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 74 (4):549 – 567.

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