This collection of papers investigates the most recent debates about individualism and holism in the philosophy of social science. The debates revolve mainly around two issues: firstly, whether social phenomena exist sui generis and how they relate to individuals. This is the focus of discussions between ontological individualists and ontological holists. Secondly, to what extent social scientific explanations may and should, focus on individuals and social phenomena respectively. This issue is debated amongst methodological holists and methodological individualists. -/- In social (...) science and philosophy, both issues have been intensively discussed and new versions of the dispute have appeared just as new arguments have been advanced. At present, the individualism/holism debate is extremely lively and this book reflects the major positions and perspectives within the debate. This volume is also relevant to debates about two closely related issues in social science: the micro-macro debate and the agency-structure debate. -/- This book presents contributions from key figures in both social science and philosophy, in the first such collection on this topic to be published since the 1970s. -/- . (shrink)
Social reality is a key problem in the philosophy of social science. Outlining the major historical and contemporary issues raised by the social reality and social facts, this book has something to offer both philosophers and social scientists. To the former is shows how the well-worn topic of realism versus anti-realism assumes new and interestingly varied forms when social reality is substituted for physical reality. For the social scientist, the book offers conceptual clarification of key issues in recent social science (...) which are really philosophical issues. (shrink)
In the debate between internalists and externalists in philosophy of language and philosophy of psychology, internalists such as Jerry Fodor have invoked a strong a priori argument to show that externalist descriptions can play no role in a science of the human mind and of human action. Shifting the ground of the debate from psychology to social science, I try to undermine Fodor's reasoning. I also point to a role for externalist theorising in the area where the socio-semantic theory of (...) the 'division of linguistic labour' makes contact with traditional micro-sociological theorising. (shrink)
Social reality is currently a hotly debated topic not only in social science, but also in philosophy and the other humanities. Finn Collin, in this concise guide, asks if social reality is created by the way social agents conceive of it? Is there a difference between the kind of existence attributed to social and to physical facts - do physical facts enjoy a more independent existence? To what extent is social reality a matter of social convention. Finn Collin considers a (...) number of traditional doctrines which support the constructivist position that social reality is generated by our 'interpretation' of it. He also examines the way social facts are contingent upon the meaning invested in them by social agents; the nature of social convention; the status of social facts as symbolic; the ways in which socially shared language is claimed to generate the reality described, as well as the limitations of some of the over-ambitious popular arguments for social constructivism. (shrink)
This paper examines the often overlooked parallels between the critical theory of the German Frankfurt School and Science and Technology Studies in Britain, as an attempt to articulate a critique of science as a social phenomenon. The cultural aspect of the German and British arguments is in focus, especially the role attributed to the humanities in balancing cultural and techno-scientific values in society. Here, we draw parallels between the German argument and the Two Cultures debate in Britain. The third and (...) final purpose of the paper is to explain why these efforts in support of the humanities would in the end prove fruitless, even somewhat self-defeating. The key factor is the instrumentalist analysis of science adopted in both arguments, which played into the hands of the emergent “entrepreneurial university” with its strengthened emphasis upon the economico-technological aspect of science and consequent neglect of the humanities. (shrink)
Since World War II social theory has generated two major critical analyses of science as a social phenomenon: that of the Frankfurt School, and of Science and Technology Studies. These academic efforts grew out of a broader movement in Western societies in the decades following the war to reach a better accommodation between science and society, motivated by deep-seated popular anxieties about the challenges posed by the advance of science and technology. In this paper, I first examine the overlooked parallels (...) between these two academic efforts, and go on to explain why they would in the end prove fruitless, indeed somewhat self-defeating. The explanation points to the instrumentalist and constructivist conception of science shared by the two schools which would eventually play into the hands of the “entrepreneurial university” and the commodification of science. (shrink)
The strong programme in the sociology of science is officially "inductively" based, generalizing a number of highly acclaimed case studies into a general approach to the social study of science. However, at a critical juncture, the programme allies itself with certain radical ideas in philosophical semantics, notablyWittgenstein's "rule following considerations". The result is an implausible, radical conventionalist view of natural science which undermines the empirical programme.
In this book, Roger Trigg manages within a brief space to encompass most of the problems that have occupied philosophers of social science recently. The book reflects the shift in interests away from such traditional debates as that concerning reasons versus causes and to such topics as the nature of social reality, the understanding of other cultures, rationality, and the "strong programme" in the sociology of knowledge.