The naturalism versus interpretivism debate in social science is traditionally framed as the question of whether social science should attempt to emulate the methods of natural science. I argue that this manner of formulating the issue is problematic insofar as it presupposes an implausibly strong unity of method among the natural sciences. I propose instead that the core question of the debate is the extent to which reliable causal inference is possible in social science, a question that cannot be answered by comparisons between social and natural science. I explore how some common arguments on both sides of the issue should be reexamined if the naturalism versus interpretivism debate is understood as I propose.
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