Originally published in 1986. All students of social science must confront a number of important philosophical issues. This introduction to the philosophy of the socialsciences provides coherent answers to questions about empiricism, explanation and rationality. It evaluates contemporary writings on the subject which can be as difficult as they are important to understand. Each chapter has an annotated bibliography to enable students to pursue the issues raised and to assess for themselves the arguments of the (...) authors. (shrink)
This volume is a unique contribution to the philosophy of the socialsciences, presenting the results of cutting-edge philosophers' research alongside critical discussions by practicing social scientists. The book is motivated by the view that the philosophy of the socialsciences cannot ignore the specific scientific practices according to which social scientific work is being conducted, and that it will be valuable only if it evolves in constant interaction with theoretical developments in (...) the socialsciences. With its unique format guaranteeing a genuine discussion between philosophers and social scientists, this thought-provoking volume extends the frontiers of the field. It will appeal to all scholars and students interested in the interplay between philosophy and the socialsciences. (shrink)
Realism in Action is a selection of essays written by leading representatives in the fields of action theory and philosophy of mind, philosophy of the socialsciences and especially the nature of social action, and of epistemology and philosophy of science. Practical reason, reasons and causes in action theory, intending and trying, and folk-psychological explanation are some of the topics discussed by these leading participants. A particular emphasis is laid on trust, commitments and (...) class='Hi'>social institutions, on the possibility of grounding social notions in individual social attitudes, on the nature of social groups, institutions and collective intentionality, and on common belief and common knowledge. Applications to the socialsciences include, e.g., a look at the Erklären-Verstehen controversy in economics, and at constructivist and realist views on archeological reconstructions of the past. (shrink)
This is a comprehensive and authoritative reference collection in the philosophy and methodology of the socialsciences. The source materials selected are drawn from debates within the natural sciences as well as social scientific practice. This four volume set covers the traditional literature on the philosophy of the socialsciences, and the contemporary philosophical and methodological debates developing at the heart of the disciplinary and interdisciplinary groups in the socialsciences. (...) It addresses the needs of researchers and academics who are grappling with the relationship between questions of knowledge construction and the problems of social scientific method. (shrink)
It is well known that Ernest Gellner made substantial use of his knowledge of the socialsciences in philosophy. Here I discuss how he used it on the basis of a few examples taken from Gellner’s philosophical output. It is argued that he made a number of highly original “translations”, orre-interpretations, of philosophical theories and problems using his knowledge of the socialsciences. While this method is endorsed, it is also argued that some of Gellner’s (...) translations crossed the line between the original and the idiosyncratic. (shrink)
In this article, I will discuss two prominent views on the relevance and irrelevance of ontological investigations for the socialsciences, namely, ontological foundationalism and anti-ontological pragmatism. I will argue that both views are unsatisfactory. The subsequent part of the article will introduce an alternative role for ontological projects in the philosophy of the socialsciences that fares better in this respect by paying attention to the ontological assumptions of actual social scientific theories, models, (...) and related explanatory practices. I will illustrate and support this alternative through discussion of three concrete cases. (shrink)
Book synopsis: Philosophy of the SocialSciences: 5 Questions is a collection of original contributions from a distinguished score of the world’s most prominent and influential scholars in the field. They deal with questions such as what drew them towards the area; how they view their own contribution, and what the future of the socialsciences looks like.
It is well known that Ernest Gellner made substantial use of his knowledge of the socialsciences in philosophy. Here I discuss how he used it on the basis of a few examples taken from Gellner’s philosophical output. It is argued that he made a number of highly original “translations”, or re-interpretations, of philosophical theories and problems using his knowledge of the socialsciences. While this method is endorsed, it is also argued that some of (...) Gellner’s translations crossed the line between the original and the idiosyncratic. (shrink)
As concepts, communication and information are very closely related, but they also designate more than their usual conceptual meaning when they are called upon in social theories as well as in philosophical theories about the reality and the truth of social life; information and communication are then designating physical events or event like objects of the observable reality, which will be hereafter described as a procedural ontologization of information. Why do they have this role and how do they (...) play it in contemporary socialsciences and philosophy of socialsciences? This article questions the scientificity of these concepts in these theoretical contexts. It wants to propose a framework for an epistemology of communication and information that is critical about the cybernetician paradigm in the socialsciences. It presents this paradigm’s main features: informational ontology and probabilistic sociality. It offers a critique of this paradigm’s epistemological and methodological pretensions. It finally exposes the basis of an alternative philosophical theory of communication that wants to support the thesis that the cybernetician paradigmatic communication theory is not scientifically productive; and that it cannot be used in social scientific theoretical contexts without being dramatically redesigned and reoriented towards new goals. (shrink)
The article reconstructs three key concepts of Hans Vaihinger: the idea of mental fictions as self-contradictory, provisory, conscious, and purposeful; the law of the devolution of ideas stating that an idea oscillates between dogma, hypothesis, or fiction; and the underlying assumption about human consciousness that the psyche constructs thoughts around perceptions like an oyster produces a pearl. In a second, constructive part, these concepts are applied in a discussion of John Searle’s social ontologically extended theory of speech acts. The (...) article introduces the Vaihingerian as-if to Searle’s account of declarations. The explanatory work in a model of social reality as Searle has proposed it rests on the ability to show a necessary connection between collective and individual intentionality facilitated through linguistic structure. The methodological individualism of the model requires that motivational assumptions about collective structures be realized in individual brains. The as-if stance of the declarer provides just this connection. (shrink)
The widespread impression that recent philosophy of science has pioneered exploration of the “social dimensions of scientific knowledge‘ is shown to be in error, partly due to a lack of appreciation of historical precedent, and partly due to a misunderstanding of how the socialsciences and philosophy have been intertwined over the last century. This paper argues that the referents of “democracy‘ are an important key in the American context, and that orthodoxies in the (...) class='Hi'>philosophy of science tend to be molded by the actual regimes of science organization within which they are embedded. These theses are illustrated by consideration of three representative philosophers of science: John Dewey, Hans Reichenbach, and Philip Kitcher. [Copyright &y& Elsevier]. (shrink)
How distinct is European philosophy of science? The first step is to characterize what is or might be considered as ‘European philosophy of science’. The second is to analyse philosophy of the socialsciences as a relevant case in the European contribution to philosophy of science. ‘European perspective’ requires some clarification, which can be done from two main angles: the historical approach and the thematic view. Thus, there are several structural and dynamic things to (...) be considered in European philosophy of science and compare with other conceptions: the topics discussed; the contents proposed; and the style of thought used. The case of philosophy of the socialsciences is relevant for the historical approach and for the thematic view. Historically, the Erklären–Verstehen methodological controversy arose in this continent, where the main authors and most of the influential approaches are located. Thematically, we can consider the contributions made by these European approaches... (shrink)
Popper has proposed a ?theory of situational rationality? as a basis for the socialsciences. This theory of rational action is reconstructed and its methodological and substantial implications discussed. It is shown that methodologically Popper's idea of rational action leads to a version of theoretical instrumentalism which is incompatible with his general philosophy of science, and that substantially it implies an unacceptable theory of social institutions. Instrumentalism can be avoided by a more contentful theory of human (...) action encompassing ?non?rational? or ?irrational? kinds of action; Popper's theory of institutions might be improved through a more comprehensive theory of collective action. (shrink)
The term ‘phenomenology’ has become almost as over-used and emptied of meaning as that other word from Continental Philosophy, namely ‘existentialism’. Yet Husserl, who first put forward the phenomenological method, considered it a rigorous alternative to positivism, and in the hands of Merleau-Ponty, a disciple of Husserl in France, phenomenology became a way of gaining a disciplined and coherent perspective on the world in which we live. When this study originally published in 1977 there were only a few books (...) in English on Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy. It introduced the reader and suggested how his thought might throw light on some of the assumptions and presuppositions of certain contemporary forms of Anglo-Saxon philosophy and social science. It also demonstrates how phenomenology seeks to unite philosophy and social science, rather than define them as mutually exclusive domains of knowledge. (shrink)
_Normativity and Naturalism in the Social Sciences_ engages with a central debate within the philosophy of social science: whether social scientific explanation necessitates an appeal to norms, and if so, whether appeals to normativity can be rendered "scientific." This collection brings together contributions from a diverse group of philosophers who explore a broad but thematically unified set of questions, many of which stem from an ongoing debate between Stephen Turner and Joseph Rouse on the role of (...) naturalism in the philosophy of the socialsciences. Informed by recent developments in both philosophy and the socialsciences, this volume will set the benchmark for contemporary discussions about normativity and naturalism. This collection will be relevant to philosophers of social science, philosophers in interested in the rule following and metaphysics of normativity, and theoretically oriented social scientists. (shrink)
Alvin Goldman's recent collection (Goldman, 1992) includes many of the important and seminal contributions made by him over the last three decades to epistemology, philosophy of mind, and analytic metaphysics. Goldman is an acknowledged leader in efforts to put material from cognitive and social science to good philosophical use. This is the “liaison” which Goldman takes his own work to exemplify and advance. Yet the essays contained in Liaisons chart an important evolution in Goldman's own views about the (...) relation between philosophy and empirical inquiry. Goldman raises, if only unwittingly, the question of what philosophy per se contributes to the encounter. The way in which Goldman's work problematizes the claim that philosophy forms a working liaison with the cognitive and socialsciences is revealed by examining two sets of distinctions prominent in Goldman's analyses in this volume. I trace how each pair of terms—philosophy versus science, individual versus social—is used by Goldman and suggest that it is less clear than one would like how these key notions are or could be distinguished from one another. Doubts about these distinctions, at least as Goldman employs them, suggest more general concerns regarding Goldman's style of naturalism and the status of philosophy as a source of knowledge. Liaisons: philosophy meets the cognitive and socialsciences , A. Goldman. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1992. (shrink)
Philosophy and the socialsciences are an important front in the ideological struggle. Under present domestic and international circumstances, what kind of role should this front play and what are the tasks it should undertake?
This book offers a systematic and critical discussion of Peter Winch's writings on the philosophy of the socialsciences. The author points to Winch's tendency to over-emphasize the importance of language and communication, and his insufficient attention to the role of practical, technological activites in human life and society. It also offers an appendix devoted to the controversy between the anthropologists Marshall Sahlins and Gananath Obeyesekere regarding Captain James Cook's Hawaiian adventures. Essential reading for those studying the (...) development of philosophy in the twentieth century, this book will also be of great interest to anthropologists, sociologists, scholars of religion, and all those with an interest in the relationship between philosophy and the socialsciences. (shrink)
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