Methods in Social Scinces
- Introduction to the principal questions explored by the philosophy of science and social science, the course aims to cultivate in students a critical awareness of the assumptions and conditions that lie behind scientific theories and arguments
- students should be able to analyse and judge the validity of an argument, construct extended coherent arguments that engage critically with the existing philosophical literature, apply and connect philosophical arguments to pertinent issues in the sciences (particularly in those disciplines that they are currently studying) and use the conceptual resource provided by the course to think logically, critically and independently
- The particular content of the course is relevant to scientific study in general and the skills that the course develops are transferable and widely applicable in academic and professional life.
- Students will have a greater awareness of the presuppositions underlying the methodologies behind the different subjects they study
- they will have a meta-theoretical perspective that allows them to evaluate and choose between the different theories within the separate disciplines they will study on their International Relations BA.
- 2. What is specific about science? The emergence of science. The shift from the Aristotelian teleological worldview to a mechanical one. Methodological distinctions between science and pre-science. The demarcation question between science and pseudo-science. Science and ideology. Popper on falsifiability
- 3. The logic of scientific method in general: deduction and induction Deductive and inductive logical validity. The inductive and the hypothetico-deductive methods. The use of observations, theories, models and axioms. Attempts to develop a logic of induction. Inductive and abductive inference.
- 4. The problem of induction and methodological alternatives Hume’s inductive scepticism. Paradoxes of confirmation: Hempel’s ‘raven’s paradox’; Goodman’s ‘new riddle of induction’. Justifications of induction (meta-inductive, pragmatic). The falsificationist alternative and problems with it. Quine’s confirmation holism.
- 5. Bayesian confirmation theory Evidence and probability. Subjectivist probability. How Bayesianism relates to the problem of induction. Objections to Bayesian epistemology.
- 6. Scientific explanation Theories of explanation in science: Hempel’s covering law theory (both deductivenomological and inductive-statistical versions); Salmon on statistical relevance and causation; Kitcher on unificationism
- 7. Laws of nature The place of ‘laws of nature’ in science. What is a law? Necessity versus regularity. The status of statistical laws.
- 8. Realism and anti-realism Does science describe reality? Appearance and reality: the place of unobservables in science. Arguments in favour of realism. Forms of anti-realism: phenomenalism, instrumentalism, constructivism. The theory-ladenness of observation. The underdetermination of theory (Quine). Kuhn on the incommensurability of paradigms.
- 9. Scientific change and progress Cumulative continuity versus discontinuity in theories of scientific change. Bachelard and Kuhn on epistemological breaks and paradigm shifts. Kuhn on normal and revolutionary science. Lakatos on research programmes. Laudan on problem-solving.
- 10. The specificities of social science Positivism, social scientific naturalism and the unity of science. Dilthey and Weber on meaningfulness and social ‘understanding’. Interpretivism: causes and reasons, explaining and understanding
- 11. Rational agency Social action as rational behaviour. What is rationality? Instrumental reason: rational choice theory; game theory; decision theory. Alternatives to the instrumental conception of rationality, e.g. Habermas’s communicative reason
- 12. Methodological individualism versus holism Individuals versus structures: conflicting social ontologies and their methodological consequences. Functional explanations and specifically social facts. Self and roles, social and personal identity. Ideological assumptions and implications involved in the methodological debates on the issue
- 13. Science and normativity The distinction between facts and values (Hume, Moore). The questioning of this (Dewey, Laudan). The possibility of a value-neutral social science. Weber on value-freedom and valuerelevance. Critiques of the supposed value-neutrality of the social and human sciences (the Frankfurt School, Foucault). The norms of science and the scientific community (Merton).
- 14. The limits of scientific rationality Heidegger on scientific objectification and the forgetting of being. Adorno and Horkheimer on the dialectic of Enlightenment. Derrida on logocentrism. Lyotard on meta-narratives and incommensurable language-games. Feyerabend’s epistemological anarchism. Paradoxes and paraconsistent logic.
- 1. Knowledge as such What is knowledge? The challenge of scepticism. Rationalist, empiricist and constructivist approaches to epistemology. The problem of the criterion and responses to it. The relationship between philosophy and science; Quine’s epistemological naturalism and objections to it.
- Interim assessment (4 module)0.3 * essay + 0.5 * Exam + 0.1 * presentation + 0.1 * Seminars Participation
- Godfrey-Smith, P. (2003). Theory and Reality : An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=324622
- Montuschi, E., & Cartwright, N. (2014). Philosophy of Social Science : A New Introduction (Vol. First edition). Oxford: OUP Oxford. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=nlebk&AN=924938
- Roth, P. A., & Turner, S. P. (2003). The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of the Social Sciences. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsebk&AN=231782
- Klein, D., Marx, J., & Fischbach, K. (2018). Agent-Based Modeling in Social Science, History, and Philosophy. An Introduction. Historical Social Research, 43(1), 7–27. https://doi.org/10.12759/hsr.43.2018.1.7-27
- Pellegrini, R. P. (1997). The links between science, philosophy, and military theory [microform] : understanding the past, implications for the future / Robert P. Pellegrini. Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. : Air University Press, 1997. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&site=eds-live&db=edsgpr&AN=edsgpr.000566563