History of the Human Sciences 24 (5):103-123 (2011)

In his highly influential book (The Idea of a Social Science and its Relation to Philosophy, first published in 1958), Peter Winch introduces an alternative concept of interpretive social science, in which the focus is shifted from the actors’ subjective motives to the common elements found in every understandable action: language-games and rule-following. This Wittgensteinian, linguistic version of interpretive social science has had its vast array of critics throughout the years: according to some of them, it neglects the practical side of sociology; while others claim that it fails properly to answer the questions raised by the translation from one language-game to another, or that it renders critical social theory impossible. In my article, I try to reflect critically upon these critiques themselves, showing that the Winchian theory does not overlook the practice in understanding the different forms of life; that with slight modifications it is able to cope with the problem of translation, and that it does not aspire to be the critical theory that many of its critics would like it to be
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DOI 10.1177/0952695111413842
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Word and Object.Willard Van Orman Quine - 1960 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):278-279.
Understanding a Primitive Society.Peter Winch - 1964 - American Philosophical Quarterly 1 (4):307 - 324.

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