Constructivist Set-Theoretic Analysis: An Alternative to Essentialist Social Science

Philosophy of the Social Sciences 53 (4):327-366 (2023)
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Psychological essentialism is a cognitive bias through which human beings conceive the entities around them as having inner essences and basic natures. Social scientists routinely generate flawed inferences because their methods require the truth of psychological essentialism. This article develops set-theoretic analysis as a scientific-constructivist approach that overcomes the bias of psychological essentialism. With this approach, the “sets” of set-theoretic analysis are mental phenomena that establish boundaries and identify similarities and differences among entities whose natural kind composition is not known. The approach is illustrated through a consideration of research on intelligence, race, and poverty in the United States.



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Causal vs. Conceptual Heterogeneity: Reply to Turner.James Mahoney - 2023 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 53 (5):439-446.

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References found in this work

The extended mind.Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers - 1998 - Analysis 58 (1):7-19.
Scientific Essentialism.Brian Ellis - 2001 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Perceptual symbol systems.Lawrence W. Barsalou - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (4):577-660.

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