Suggests that acknowledging that socialinquiry may be indelibly linked to ethical reflection raises difficult questions . There seem to be a few fundamental metatheoretical options available, each presuming some ontology of human existence and colored by at least a few basic moral or spiritual commitments. The options are briefly sketched, and their virtues and blind spots highlighted. The options include mainstream social science, "descriptivisms," liberal individualism, existential freedom, and contemporary hermeneutics. It is suggested that a hermeneutic (...) view of social theory as practice offers an alternative to both explanatory and constructionist accounts. 2012 APA, all rights reserved). (shrink)
There are now countless social scientific disciplines—listed either as the science of … X … or as an -ology of one kind or another—each with their own internal controversies as to what are their “proper objects of their study.” This profusion of separate sciences has emerged, and is still emerging, tainted by the classical Cartesian-Newtonian assumption of a mechanistic world. We still seem to assume that we can begin our inquiries simply by reflecting on the world around us, and (...) by allowing our conceptualizations to guide our actions in our inquiries. Beginning our inquiries in this retrospective manner, however, means that our concepts and conceptualizations are both after-the-fact and beside the point, for ‘something else’ altogether is guiding us in the performance of our situation-sensitive actions than merely our conceptualizations. We need before-the-fact, hermeneutically-structured inquiries that can ‘set out’ inner ‘landscapes of possibilities’, to think-with and to provide guidance, as we try in our more scientifically organized efforts to achieve socially desired outcomes in particular socially shared situations. Conducting such preliminary inquiries is thus an art, requiring not only judgment, but also imagination and poetic forms of expression aimed at creating such shared, inner landscapes among all concerned. (shrink)
John Dewey attempted a pragmatic aufhebung of the disparate methodological aims of social science-explanation, understanding, and critique- in his 1938 Logic: the theory of Inquiry. There, in his penultimate chapter ‘SocialInquiry’, Dewey performed a trademark implementation of his deflation of absolutistic and universalistic pretensions in intellectual and theoretical discourse, in this case with respect to any one approach to social science. This deflation--as elsewhere in his analogous treatments of epistemology, ethics, and the theory of (...) action-- involved the reconstruction of the claims of the naturalist, interpretivist, and critical schools of social science into one overall pattern of socialinquiry. This recasts the different and seemingly irreconcilable aims of these schools into a series of steps in a practice. That these claims, then, simultaneously stand independently but in varying degrees of tension with, and support of, each other is a hallmark of pragmatism’s embrace of pluralism in intelligent problem solving. Dewey’s discussion of interpretation needs supplementation from his broader philosophical commitments in order to see the full sense of both the compatibility and the incompatibility of his theory with philosophical hermeneutics. (shrink)
Fuller's program of social epistemology engages a rhetoric of inquiry that can be usefully compared and contrasted with other discursive theories of knowledge, such as that of Richard Rorty. Resisting the model of “conversation,” Fuller strikes an activist posture and lays the groundwork for normative “knowledge policy,” in which persuasion and credibility play key roles. The image of investigation is one that overtly rejects the “storehouse” conception of knowledge and invokes the metaphors of distributive economics. Productive questions arise (...) as to how notions of creation and distribution might guide this rhetoric. (shrink)
This book explores the epistemology and the methodology of political knowledge and socialinquiry. What can we know, and how do we know? Friedrich V. Kratochwil and Ted Hopf question all foundational claims of inquiry and envisage science as a self-reflective practice. Brian Pollins and Fred Chernoff accept their arguments to some degree and explore the implications for logical positivism. David A. Waldner, Jack Levy, and Andrew Lawrence address the purpose and methods of research. They debate the (...) role of explanation versus prediction, the relationship of theory to evidence, and their implications for the Democratic Peace research program. A concluding chapter by Mark Lichbach offers a pluralistic reformulation of neopositivism. An alternative conclusion by Steven Bernstein, Richard Ned Lebow, Janice Gross Stein and Steven Weber contends that social science should be modeled on medicine and reformulated as a set of case-based diagnostic tools. The distinguishing feature of the book is the inclusion of authors who represent different approaches to social science and their willingness to engage with one another in a constructive debate. (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)
of democratizing socialinquiry by actively engaging the subject in the design and conduct of research. Drawing on four examples of PAR-based social science and a democratic reconstruction of "epistemic privilege," this article argues that philosophers need to take seriously PAR's notion that democratic norms should guide socialinquiry. But it does not advocate replacing mainstream or expert-directed social science by PAR. Instead, it maintains that it is both possible and sensible for PAR practitioners (...) to collaborate with conventional research. Indeed, certain forms of nonparticipatory social science seem indispensable for any extensive application of the PAR framework. The article concludes by drawing out its (controversial) implications for two central issues in the philosophy of social science: first, that the methods of socialinquiry are distinct from those in the natural sciences and, second, that there is a sense in which social research can and should be "value neutral.". (shrink)
A distinctive feature of Ludwig Wittgenstein's work after 1930 was his turn to a conception of philosophy as a form of socialinquiry, John G. Gunnell argues, and Thomas Kuhn's approach to the philosophy of science exemplified this conception. In this book, Gunnell shows how these philosophers address foundational issues in the social and human sciences, particularly the vision of socialinquiry as an interpretive endeavor and the distinctive cognitive and practical relationship between social (...)inquiry and its subject matter. Gunnell speaks directly to philosophers and practitioners of the social and human sciences. He tackles the demarcation between natural and social science; the nature of social phenomena; the concept and method of interpretation; the relationship between language and thought; the problem of knowledge of other minds; and the character of descriptive and normative judgments about practices that are the object of inquiry. Though Wittgenstein and Kuhn are often criticized as initiating a modern descent into relativism, this book shows that the true effect of their work was to undermine the basic assumptions of contemporary social and human science practice. It also problematized the authority of philosophy and other forms of socialinquiry to specify the criteria for judging such matters as truth and justice. When Wittgenstein stated that "philosophy leaves everything as it is," he did not mean that philosophy would be left as it was or that philosophy would have no impact on what it studied, but rather that the activity of inquiry did not, simply by virtue of its performance, transform the object of inquiry. (shrink)
Complexity is introduced as a fitting paradigmatic orientation to socialinquiry. A complexity approach is compared and contrasted with other holistic socialinquiry orientations and constructivist styles of thinking that have informed and guided the evolution of qualitative socialinquiry.
Disproportionate reliance on distinctively masculine social experience contributes a false plausibility to the shared assumptions of "naturalist" and "intentionalist" approaches to the philosophy of social science. This social bias leads these approaches to recommend purposes, contents, forms, methods and ethics of socialinquiry which produce both insoluble problems for both approaches and also distorted accounts of social reality. The paper explores some of the reasons why men's experience has been granted this unjustifiable epistemological privilege.
This book is a critical introduction to the philosophy of social science. While most social scientists maintain that the social sciences should stand free of politics, this book argues that they should be politically partisan. Root offers a clear description and provocative criticism of many of the methods and ideals that guide research and teaching in the social sciences.
Although social scientists have been devoted to discovering specific realities of social life, many theorists devoted to critical judgment have turned to philosophy in search of universal grounds of truth and reality. They have, however, worried about the problem of relativism. Although Wittgenstein has often been characterized as a relativist, Cora Diamond, inspired by G. E. M Anscombe, argues that his work, despite internal tensions, provides rational grounds for external criticism of social practices. Her argument and her (...) critique of the work of Peter Winch and Ilham Dilman are, however, neither adequately supported by Wittgenstein’s texts nor sufficiently developed on their own terms. (shrink)
This essay addresses various issues about interpretive social investigation that arise in recent books by Berel Lerner and by Mark Risjord. The general topics considered are the relation between interpretation and explanation, the explanation of action, and alternative rationalities. Part 1 centers on Risjord’s attempt to draw interpretation into the explanatory enterprise, among other things pointing out the limiting assumptions of his account and asking whether social investigation has epistemologically significant practical ends. Part 2 addresses the roles of (...) normativity and rationality in explanations of action, taking up (1) a disagreement between Risjord and David Henderson on normativity, and (2) Lerner’s account of Winch’s appropriation of Wittgenstein’s idea of expressive action. Part 3, finally, endorses Lerner’s and Risjord’s version of the claim that rationality has multiple criteria while also suggesting that intelligibility, not rationality, lies at the heart of many debates on interpretive social science. (shrink)
Providing a capstone to Philip Selznick's influential body of scholarly work, _A Humanist Science_ insightfully brings to light the value-centered nature of the social sciences. The work clearly challenges the supposed separation of fact and value, and argues that human values belong to the world of fact and are the source of the ideals that govern social and political institutions. By demonstrating the close connection between the social sciences and the humanities, Selznick reveals how the methods of (...) the social sciences highlight and enrich the study of such values as well-being, prosperity, rationality, and self-government. The book moves from the animating principles that make up the humanist tradition to the values that are central to the social sciences, analyzing the core teachings of these disciplines with respect to the moral issues at stake. Throughout the work, Selznick calls attention to the conditions that affect the emergence, realization, and decline of human values, offering a valuable resource for scholars and students of law, sociology, political science, and philosophy. (shrink)
Several recent publications attest to a renewed interest, at the dawn of the 21st century, in the philosophy of Charles S. Peirce. While agreeing with the relevance of Peirce philosophy for the 21st century, we disagree with some interpretations of Peirce as a utilitarian-based pragmatist, or with attempts to extract from Peirce a theory of social justice for 21st century societies. A critical exploration of Peirce’s philosophy of science, particularly his idea of scientific inquiry as “the study of (...) useless things”, serves to illuminate the un-pragmatic and anti-utilitarian dimension of Peirce’s thought, as well as to reveal his true ethical relevance for the 21st century. (shrink)
Written by a social development practitioner, this paper applies a Goethean approach to the social sphere. The contention being that the Goethean method and understanding can be extended to working with social development processes; equally, that facilitation of social process is enhanced and deepened through a Goethean sensibility. The bulk of the paper, book ended by two obliquely apposite short stories, follows the process of a collaborative enquiry during which participants reflected on a particular social (...) phenomenon. The paper is an illustration of the value of the Goethean approach not only to the phenomenon itself but to the sensibility of participants and groups which undertake it. It also serves to extend the realm of Goethean application into a sphere which is in desperate need of such sensibility. (shrink)
Yanchar, Slife, and their colleagues have described how mainstream psychology's notion of critical thinking has largely been conceived of as “scientific analytic reasoning” or “method-centered critical thinking.” We extend here their analysis and critique, arguing that some version of the one-sided instrumentalism and confusion about tacit values that characterize scientistic approaches to inquiry also color phenomenological, critical theoretical, and social constructionist viewpoints. We suggest that hermeneutic/dialogical conceptions of inquiry, including the idea of social theory as itself (...) a form of ethically motivated human practice, give a fuller account of critical thinking in the social disciplines. (shrink)
This article relates the emergence of a group of faculty researchers utilizing complexity science approaches. The narrative emerges from three projects combining research into complexity, communities, and technologies. Details of how the research was initiated, and the nature and quality of the conversational method, are provided. In addition, theoretical concepts that were consciously applied and others that arose through insights from the data as it was collected are discussed. Although this is like most real narratives, a never-ending story, it concludes (...) with a presentation of some of the ideas that separate complexity-informed research from other paradigms. (shrink)
This article discusses the conditions under which dialogical learner-researchers can move out of the philosophical laboratory of a community of philosophical inquiry into the field of social activism, engaging in a critical and creative examination of society and seeking to change it. Based on Matthew Lipman’s proposal that communities of philosophical inquiry can serve as a model of social activism in the present, it presents the community of philosophical inquiry as a model for social (...) activism in the future. In other words, Lipman’s central ideas in his earlier and later thought—including meaning as a mode of action, relevance as a way of examining life and stimulating influence for change as a form of creating a democratic society—establish two parallel circle of influence: the present time, in the shape of the philosophical community of inquiry that allows activist skills to be honed, and a social space that extends into the future as a forum for applying principles and bettering society. Finally, this paper adduces several forms of social activism that may be anchored in philosophical awareness of real conditions and their contexts. Through them, the community of philosophical inquiry not only constitutes a place in which young people’s thought processes can be developed but also one in which they can aspire to become activists in various areas. (shrink)
In recent years, feminist philosophy of science has been subjected to criticism. The debate has focused on the implications of the underdetermination thesis for accounts of the role of social values in scientific reasoning. My aim here is to offer a different approach. I suggest that feminist philosophers of science contribute to our understanding of science by (1) producing gender‐sensitive analyses of the social dimensions of scientific inquiry and (2) examining the relevance of these analyses for normative (...) issues in philosophy of science. (shrink)
Formal models of scientific inquiry, aimed at capturing socio-epistemic aspects underlying the process of scientific research, have become an important method in formal social epistemology and philosophy of science. In this introduction to the special issue we provide a historical overview of the development of formal models of this kind and analyze their methodological contributions to discussions in philosophy of science. In particular, we show that their significance consists in different forms of ‘methodological iteration’ whereby the models initiate (...) new lines of inquiry, isolate and clarify problems with existing knowledge claims, and stimulate further research. (shrink)
Bryan S. Turner: Can We Live Forever? A Social and Moral Inquiry Content Type Journal Article Category Book Review Pages 301-303 DOI 10.1007/s12376-009-0024-6 Authors Thomas R. Cole, University of Texas-Houston School of Medicine McGovern Center for Health, Humanities, and the Human Spirit Houston TX 77030 USA Journal Medicine Studies Online ISSN 1876-4541 Print ISSN 1876-4533 Journal Volume Volume 1 Journal Issue Volume 1, Number 3.
In this thesis I investigate causal inquiry in the social sciences, drawing on examples from various disciplines and in particular from conflict studies. In a backlash against the pervasiveness of statistical methods, in the last decade certain social scientists have focused on finding the causal mechanisms behind observed correlations. To provide evidence for such mechanisms, researchers increasingly rely on ‘process tracing’, a method which attempts to give evidence for causal relations by specifying the chain of events connecting (...) a putative cause and effect of interest. I will ask whether the causal claims process tracers make are defensible, and where they are not defensible I will ask how we can improve the method. Throughout these investigations, I show that the conclusions of process tracing are constrained both by the causal structure ofthe social world and by social scientists’ aims and values. My central argument is this: all instances of social phenomena have causally relevant differences, which implies that any research design that requires some comparison between cases is limited by how we systematize these phenomena. Moreover, such research cannot rely on stable regularities. Nevertheless, to forego causal conclusions altogether is not the right response to these limitations; by carefully outlining our epistemic assumptions we can make progress in causal inquiry. While I use philosophical theories of causation to comment on the feasibility of a social scientific method, I also do the reverse: by investigating a popular contemporary method in the social sciences, I show to what extent our philosophical theories of causation are workable in practice. Thus, this thesis is both a methodological and a philosophical work. Every chapter discusses both a fundamental philosophical position on the social sciences and a relevant case study from the social sciences. (shrink)
In this paper, I propose a new way to integrate historical accounts of social interaction in scientific practice with philosophical examination of scientific knowledge. The relation between descriptive accounts of scientific practice, on the one hand, and normative accounts of scientific knowledge, on the other, is a vexed one. This vexatiousness is one instance of the gap between normative and descriptive domains. The general problem of the normative/descriptive divide takes striking and problematic form in the case of social (...) aspects of scientific knowledge. With respect to this issue, history and philosophy of science appear starkly incompatible. I show how this dualism can be overcome, drawing on social action theory and the recent history of cellular immunology. (shrink)