This book makes trouble: it explores the reality that digital culture is largely an extension of an older coloniality of power of the global north. It suggests a line of inquiry for the social sciences to reflect on their own imperial role and develop a contemporary critical and pragmatic scope, shifting their gaze from problems to opportunities.
The paper draws on Sperber's thesis, according to which the social and historical sciences are a free alliance of various research programs with various objectives. One of the most expanded of these programs is interpretativism. Although the author acknowledges various interpretative approaches , she focuses solely on the contextual interpretation. She defines it in the light of the difference between the thick and thin descriptions , analyzes the conditions and the chracteristics of the interpretation . The attention is paid (...) also to the consequences of Davidson´s radical interpretation for the interpretativism as well as to his conception, according to which reasons are not only causes, but also explanatory of what people do. Although the author sees the interpretation as an effective method in social and historical knowledge, its validity, its evidence and its intersubjective objectivity still remain open to questioning. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to discuss the “Framework for M&S with Agents” (FMSA) proposed by Zeigler et al. [2000, 2009] in regard to the diverse epistemological aims of agent simulations in social sciences. We first show that there surely are great similitudes, hence that the aim to emulate a universal “automated modeler agent” opens new ways of interactions between these two domains of M&S with agents. E.g., it can be shown that the multi-level conception at the core (...) of the FMSA is similar in both contexts: notions of “levels of system specifi cation”, “behavior of models”, “simulator”and “endomorphic agents” can be partially translated in the terms linked to the “denotational hierarchy” (DH) and recently introduced in a multi-level centered epistemology of M&S. Second, we suggest considering the question of “credibility” of agent M&S in social sciences when we do not try to emulate but only to simulate target systems. Whereas a stringent and standardized treatment of the heterogeneous internal relations (in the DH) between systems of formalisms is the key problem and the essential challenge in the scope of Agent M&S driven engineering, it is urgent too to address the problem of the external relations (and of the external validity, hence of the epistemic power and credibility) of such levels of formalisms in the specific domains of agent M&S in social sciences, especially when we intend to introduce the concepts of activity tracking. (shrink)
In this review essay, I examine the central tenets of sociologist Dave Elder-Vass’s recent contribution to social ontology, as put forth in his book The Causal Power of Social Structures: Emergence, Structure and Agency. Elder-Vass takes issue with ontological individualists and maintains that social structures exist and have causal powers in their own right. I argue that he fails to establish his main theses: he shows neither that social structures have causal powers “in their own right” (in any sense (...) of this expression) nor that they exist. (shrink)
The author considers the way in which psychic life is generated by the social operation of power, and how that social operation of power is concealed and fortified by the psyche that it produces. Power is no longer understood to be 'internalized' by an existing subject, but the subject is spawned as an ambivalent effect of power, one that is staged through the operation of conscience. To claim that power fabricates the psyche is also to (...) claim that there is a fictional and fabricated quality to the psyche. The figure of a psyche that 'turns against itself' is crucial to this study, and offers an alternative to describing power as 'internalized'. Although most readers of Foucault eschew psychoanalytic theory, and most thinkers of the psyche eschew Foucault, the author seeks to theorize this ambivalent relation between the social and the psychic as one of the most dynamic and difficult effects of power. (shrink)
The social sciences stand at a strange crossroads. There is a greater need for disciplined inquiry into the issues of policy facing the United States. Yet the incentives in the political system, and in the professional guilds of those performing social research, discourage a close involvement of many prominent social scientists with policy. The political system, fearing an elite imposing its values on society, welcomes the natural scientist who seems to conform to the model of the politically neutral expert (...) who solves problems and addresses “facts”. This model also fits the higher ranks of the civil service, made up of specialists rather than generalist administrators, and the outside advisers serving officials concerned with high policy. Likewise, to protect themselves from changes of partisanship, leading academic social scientists forsake policy concerns for topics within the analytic traditions of Weberian Wertfreiheit. Just as Weber sought to avoid censorship by value neutral scholarship, the modern social scientist disdains the normative concerns of policy in favour of more tractable, morally neutral issues defined as the core of the discipline.The country needs to draw some of the best analytical talent in the social science community into the policy process and advisory roles. Disciplined inquiry cannot be left only to technicians whose professional interests are far removed from political, economic, social and other human sciences. To promote better policy and better social science, we should encourage serious, professionally grounded inquiry into social values, the directions of policy, and the role and proper limits of state power. In the clamour of American politics, there is little danger that policy will be monopolised by an elite group, but considerable danger that debate on policy will be impoverished by the absence of those most knowledgeable about social and economic reality. (shrink)
In recent years the quest for the proper form and content of social science studies has been a major preoccupation of academics. The reasons for this are numerous: the very rapid expansion of higher education generally and the particularly marked demand for the social sciences has led to a proliferation of new departments; brash young men have been promoted early to positions of power within the universities; the increasingly vocal criticism by the consumers of education – the students (...) themselves – and, perhaps most important of all, a growing desire to re-aggregate human knowledge to counter the trend towards ever narrower degrees of specialism. All these factors have contributed to a mounting dissatisfaction with the traditional ways of studying the social sciences – that is, in almost hermetically sealed departments of economics, of politics, of sociology, and so on. Instead attempts have been made to draw the various social sciences together in studies of particular areas ; or of particular processes such as industrialisation, or urbanisation; or of particular problems as associated with, for instance, poverty or race. Each of these represents, of course, a multi- or inter-disciplinary approach to the study of the social sciences. Over the past four years I have been associated with two attempts to produce an integrated, inter-disciplinary course in social sciences. One was a failure; the other, my current preoccupation, is, I think, promising. What I have to say tonight is concerned with an analysis of these two intellectual experiments. (shrink)
This 1989 book is intended as an introductory survey of the philosophy of the social sciences. It is essentially a work of exposition which offers a toolbox of mechanisms - nuts and bolts, cogs and wheels - that can be used to explain complex social phenomena. Within a brief compass, Jon Elster covers a vast range of topics. His point of departure is the conflict we all face between our desires and our opportunities. How can rational choice theory help (...) us understand our motivation and behaviour? More significantly, what happens when the theory breaks down but we still cleave to a belief in the power of the rational? Elster describes the fascinating range of forms of irrationality - wishful thinking, the phenomenon of sour grapes, discounting the future in noncooperative behaviour. This is a remarkably lucid and comprehensive introduction to the social sciences for students of political science, philosophy, sociology and economics. (shrink)
The purpose of this book -- Intentionality -- Collective intentionality and the assignment of function -- Language as biological and social -- The general theory of institutions and institutional facts: -- Language and social reality -- Free will, rationality, and institutional facts -- Power : deontic, background, political, and other -- Human rights -- Concluding remarks : the ontological foundations of the social sciences.
The problem of structure and agency has been the subject of intense debate in the social sciences for over 100 years. This book offers a solution. Using a critical realist version of the theory of emergence, Dave Elder-Vass argues that, instead of ascribing causal significance to an abstract notion of social structure or a monolithic concept of society, we must recognise that it is specific groups of people that have social structural power. Some of these groups are entities (...) with emergent causal powers, distinct from those of human individuals. Yet these powers also depend on the contributions of human individuals, and this book examines the mechanisms through which interactions between human individuals generate the causal powers of some types of social structures. The Causal Power of Social Structures makes particularly important contributions to the theory of human agency and to our understanding of normative institutions. (shrink)
Recent debates in contemporary feminist theory have been dominated by the relation between identity and politics. Beyond Identity Politics examines the implications of recent theorizing on difference, identity and subjectivity for theories of patriarchy and feminist politics. Organised around the three central themes of subjectivity, power and politics, this book focuses on a question which feminists struggled with and were divided by throughout the last decade, that is: how to theorize the relation between the subject and politics. In this (...) thoughtful engagement with these debates Moya Lloyd argues that the turn to the subject in process does not entail the demise of feminist politics as many feminists have argued. She demonstrates how key ideas such as agency, power and domination take on a new shape as a consequence of this radical rethinking of the subject-politics relation and how the role of feminist political theory becomes centred upon critique. A resource for feminist theorists, women's and gender studies students, as well as political and social theorists, this is a carefully composed and wide-ranging text, which provides important insights into one of contemporary feminism's most central concerns. (shrink)
A key to the shortcomings and confusions afflicting 20th century social science seems to be problematic moral underpinnings or "disguised ideologies" that drive much of its research and theory. Philosophical hermeneutics shows great promise for diagnosing this condition and reorienting human science inquiry in helpful ways. However, it has been suggested by a number of thoughtful critics that hermeneutics has not yet taken the full measure of the kinds of "power" that can imbue and distort human communication, including social (...) theory and research. This paper addresses several of these critiques, finds merit in them, but argues that such concerns about power may be able to be addressed more adequately by a hermeneutic approach than by the viewpoints from which they are raised. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
In Epistemic injustice, Miranda Fricker employs the critical concept of hermeneutical injustice. Such injustice entails unequal participation in the epistemic practices of a community that often results in an inability of dominated subjects to understand their own experiences and have them understood by their community. I argue that hermeneutical injustice can be an aspect of institutions as well communites?to the extent that they too engage in epistemic practices that seek to understand the problems and experiences of their constituents. My primary (...) example is the case of development theory and international development agencies where human beings were objectified in undesirable ways by the prevailing neoliberal economic theories that guided development practice. Here economic theory and the power to achieve its vision of unconstrained economic growth were combined in various organizations. Consequently such organizations systematically misunderstood the problems of the very people they were supposed to help. I argue that if hermeneutical injustice can be the result of the intersection of science and organizations, we need to create more participatory ways of gleaning information about social ills to alleviate institutionally mediated hermeneutical injustice. (shrink)
Making Social Science Matter presents an exciting new approach to the social and behavioral sciences including theoretical argument, methodological guidelines, and examples of practical application. Why has social science failed in attempts to emulate natural science and produce normal theory? Bent Flyvbjerg argues that the strength of social sciences lies in its rich, reflexive analysis of values and power, essential to the social and economic development of any society. Richly informed, powerfully argued, and clearly written, this book (...) opens up a new future for the social sciences. Its empowering message will make it required reading for students and academics across the social and behavioral sciences. (shrink)
The general question to which this paper is addressed is whether knowledge and rationality carry within themselves the seeds of their own destruction. Some of those who set out in search of knowledge come to believe as a result of their inquiries that the object of their quest is not what they had taken it to be; seeking to discover the way the world actually is, they are led to conclude that all they can hope to find is a reflection (...) of their own needs and interests; the grail is but a beaker. Similarly, some of those whose aim is to formulate the principles of rational thought are led by reason to deny that any beliefs can be rationally justified; reasons are never reasons for believing but mere epiphenomena, produced by but not producing events whose only begetter is the passions; the quest is just another power struggle. The particular question I wish to ask is whether this picture is an accurate representation of social inquiry. (shrink)
The question of whether Critical Realism has committed an "ontological fallacy" in revealing the "epistemic fallacy" in social scientific research is addressed. An overview of Critical Realism's treatment of the connection between epistemology & ontology, which culminated in the unveiling of the epistemic fallacy, is provided. Critical Realism's understanding of explanation as it applies to social scientific inquiry is then explored to determine whether such thought has committed the ontological fallacy. The presence of the ontological fallacy within the thinking of (...) Tony Lawson & other Critical Realist thinkers is illustrated. A strategy for avoiding both the epistemic & ontological fallacies in conceptualizing explanatory power in social scientific practices is subsequently offered. It is concluded that acceptance of this alternative understanding of the epistemology-ontology relationship will encourage the development of explanatory pluralism. 31 References. J. W. Parker. (shrink)
Power is clearly a crucial concept for feminist theory. Insofar as feminists are interested in analyzing power, it is because they have an interest in understanding, critiquing, and ultimately challenging the multiple array of unjust power relations affecting women in contemporary Western societies, including sexism, racism, heterosexism, and class oppression. In "The Power of Feminist Theory," Amy Allen diagnoses the inadequacies of previous feminist conceptions of power, and draws on the work of a diverse group (...) of theorists of power, including Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, and Hannah Arendt, in order to construct a new feminist conception of power. The conception of power developed in this book enables readers to theorize domination, resistance, and solidarity, and, perhaps more importantly, to do so in a way that illuminates the interrelatedness of these three modalities of power. (shrink)
"This book does serve a very useful purpose in returning power to the centre of the feminist stage. . . . This book makes clear the ways in which the machinations of power are more subtle, widespread, and multiform than it sometimes appears. Further, the clarity of presentation means that it is also a text that can usefully be included on student bibliographies." --Women's Philosophy Review "The Gender of Power, which announces itself in the first line of (...) its Preface as a scholarly treatment of the 'battle of the sexes,' is a fine contribution to this promising dialogue of understanding." --The Journal of Men's Studies "This well-edited book addresses the problem of gender in theories of power directly, incisively, and succinctly. It is as joyfully free of jargon and prolixity, as it is of dogma and flag-waving.". (shrink)
The Jamesian mode of writing, it has been claimed, actively works against an understanding of the way truth, history and power circulate in his texts. In this collection of essays, leading scholars of James analyse the strategies James used to address these crucial issues. Enacting History in Henry James claims that, because the type of knowledge available in James's fiction is never of a cognitive kind, the reader can never know 'truth' in any verifiable sense. James's writing instead promises (...) an experiential type of knowledge, one that is attained by participating in the power games and moral dramas that unfold within the text. This collection argues that reading James ultimately requires not just an emotional responsiveness, but also an ethical assumption of responsibility for the act of reading. By placing James's work in a fresh theoretical context, this book throws new light on this most enigmatic of writers. (shrink)
This collection of original essays on political and legal theory concentrates on themes dealt with in the work of Felix Oppenheim, including fundamental political and legal concepts and their implications for the scope of morality in politics and international relations. Among the issues addressed are the relationship between empirical and normative definitions of "freedom", "power", and "interests", whether governments are free to act against the national interest, and whether they can ever be morally obliged to do so.
This collection of essays analyzes relations of social inequality that appear to be logical extensions of a "natural order," and in the process demonstrates that a revitalized feminist anthropology of the 1990s has much to offer the field of feminist theory. Fashioned as a response to the lack of cultural analysis in feminist scholarship, the contributors question the category of gender within the inclusive context of the structural dynamics of inequality. They also examine how cultural identities, domains and institutions affect (...) our perception of gender in society. The first selection of essays addresses how ideas of family and kinship have fostered society's hierarchies and legitimized the status quo. In part two, the essays show how several dimensions of inequality are implicit in the construction of identities that are based upon ideas of social solidarity. Contributors: Susan McKinnon, University of Virginia; Kath Weston, Arizona State West; Rayna Rapp, New School for Social Research; Janet Dolgin, Hofstra University; Harriet Whitehead, Duke University; Carol Delaney, Stanford University; Brackette Williams, University of Arizona; Sylvia Yanagisako, Stanford University; Phyllis Chock, Catholic University; Sherry Ortner, University of Michigan; Anna Tsing, University of California, Santa Cruz. (shrink)
Naked Science is about contested domains and includes different science cultures: physics, molecular biology, primatology, immunology, ecology, medical environmental, mathematical and navigational domains. While the volume rests on the assumption that science is not autonomous, the book is distinguished by its global perspective. Examining knowledge systems within a planetary frame forces thinking about boundaries that silence or affect knowledge-building. Consideration of ethnoscience and technoscience research within a common framework is overdue for raising questions about deeply held beliefs and assumptions we (...) all carry about scientific knowledge. We need a perspective on how to regard different science traditions because public controversies should not be about a glorified science or a despicable science. Contributors are: Ward Goodenough, Eloisa and Brent Berlin, Colin Scott, Jean Lave, Emily Martin, Troy Duster, Hugh Gusterson, Charles Schwartz, Joan Fujimura, Sharon Traweek, Estellie Smith, Ellen Bielawaski, David Jacobon, Charles Ziegler, Pamela Asquith. (shrink)
Richard Miller presents a bold new program for international justice. He argues for new standards of responsible conduct by governments, firms, and individuals in developed countries, to govern trade, investment, environmental policy, and the use of force. He offers an urgently needed strategy for moving humanity toward genuine global co-operation.
Employing a well-known local regularity from macroeconomics, the Phillips curve, I examine Woodward’s (, ) account of the explanatory power of such historically restricted generalizations and the mathematical models with which they are sometimes associated. The article seeks to show that, pace Woodward, to be explanatory such generalizations need to be underwritten by more fundamental ones, and that rational choice theory would not avail in this case to provide the required underwriting. Examining how such explanatory restricted regularities are underwritten (...) in biology—by unrestricted Darwinian regularities—provides the basis for an argument that Darwinian regularities serve the same function in human affairs. The general argument for this claim requires, inter alia , that we accept some version or other of a theory of memes. The article concludes by clearing the field of some prominent objections to the existence of memes, and extracting some policy implications from the persistence and acceleration of arms races in human affairs. (shrink)