Sociology and Hacking's Trousers

For Hacking, the word "real", like the sexist expression "wear the trousers", takes its meaning from its negative uses. In this essay, I criticize Hacking's reasons for believing that the objects of study of the social sciences are not real. First I argue that the realism issue in the social sciences concerns not unobservable entities but systems of social classification. I then argue that Hacking's social science nominalism derives from his considering social groups in isolation from the entire social system. I conclude that the objects of study of the social sciences do not relegate them to an inferior status.
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