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Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Towards Pragmatism

ISBN: 978-0-7456-2247-7
264 pages
November 2005, Polity
Philosophy of the Social Sciences: Towards Pragmatism (074562247X) cover image
In this ground-breaking new text, Patrick Baert analyses the central perspectives in the philosophy of social science, critically investigating the work of Durkheim, Weber, Popper, critical realism, critical theory, and Rorty's neo pragmatism.

  • Places key writers in their social and political contexts, helping to make their ideas meaningful to students.
  • Shows how these authors’ views have practical uses in empirical research.
  • Lively approach that makes complex ideas understandable to upper-level students, as well as having scholarly appeal.
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Acknowledgements.

Introduction.

Chapter 1. Emile Durkheim's naturalism.

Introduction.

An uneasy relationship with positivism.

How to be a proper sociologist.

Application: the study of suicide.

Evaluation.

Further reading.

Bibliography.

Chapter 2. Max Weber's interpretative method.

Introduction.

Transcending the Methodenstreit.

Ideal types and different types of action.

Application: the Protestant Ethic.

Evaluation.

Further reading.

Bibliography.

Chapter 3. Karl Popper's falsificationism.

Introduction.

What science is about.

The controversy with Kuhn.

How to make social science scientific.

The problem with historicism and utopianism.

Methodological individualism.

Evaluation.

Further reading.

Bibliography.

Chapter 4. Critical realism.

The realist bandwagon.

Realism, reality and causality.

Creative scientists at work.

Contributions to social theory.

Application: British politics.

Evaluation.

Further reading.

Bibliography.

Chapter 5. Critical Theory.

Introduction.

The Early Frankfurt School.

Jurgen Habermas.

Further reading.

Bibliography.

Chapter 6. Richard Rorty and Pragmatism.

Introduction.

American pragmatism and Rorty.

The myth of scientific method.

The new left and the cultural left.

Evaluation.

Further reading.

Bibliography.

Chapter 7. A Pragmatist philosophy of the social sciences.

Outline of a pragmatist view.

Cultural anthropology.

Archaeology.

History and social sciences.

Some concluding remarks.

Notes.

References and Bibliography.

Index
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Patrick Baert is University Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge
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  • A comprehensive analysis of central perspectives in the philosophy of the social sciences.

  • Places key writers in their social and political contexts, helping to make their ideas meaningful to students.

  • Shows how these authors’ views have practical uses in empirical research.

  • Lively approach that makes complex ideas understandable to upper-level students, as well as having scholarly appeal.
See More
“Baert’s summary of influential perspectives in the history of social-scientific concept formation is very useful and can be recommended as a current brand-leader amongst textbooks in this field ... This book extends its scope beyond the provision of reliable summary and it leads theory forward in an engaged and productive direction.”
British Journal of Socioliogy

“Patrick Baert has written another well argued and lucid introduction to methodological and theoretical problems in social research.”
Sociological Review

“Patrick Baert elegantly and skilfully demonstrates the continuities between philosophical and social scientific concerns in this field. This book contains both an outstanding critical discussion and a powerful argument for a pragmatist position.”
William Outhwaite, University of Sussex

“Baert’s thorough-going pragmatism is an enormously promising redirection of philosophical debate in and about the social sciences. This is an ambitious treatment of canonical figures whose philosophical reflection has been influential in the social science – Durkheim, Weber, Popper, the critical realists, Habermas, and several latter day pragmatists. Crucially, it is a treatment that exemplifies what Baert advocates: he contextualizes these theorists and their arguments, puts them in dialog with one another, and extracts philosophical lessons that not only bear on
philosophical traditions of debate but that are consequential for social scientists as well. I recommend it to anyone, philosopher or social scientist, student or established professional, who thinks critically about the goals and assumptions of the social sciences.”
Alison Wylie, University of Washington

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