Chapter 1. Emile Durkheim's naturalism.
An uneasy relationship with positivism.
How to be a proper sociologist.
Application: the study of suicide.
Chapter 2. Max Weber's interpretative method.
Transcending the Methodenstreit.
Ideal types and different types of action.
Application: the Protestant Ethic.
Chapter 3. Karl Popper's falsificationism.
What science is about.
The controversy with Kuhn.
How to make social science scientific.
The problem with historicism and utopianism.
Chapter 4. Critical realism.
The realist bandwagon.
Realism, reality and causality.
Creative scientists at work.
Contributions to social theory.
Application: British politics.
Chapter 5. Critical Theory.
The Early Frankfurt School.
Chapter 6. Richard Rorty and Pragmatism.
American pragmatism and Rorty.
The myth of scientific method.
The new left and the cultural left.
Chapter 7. A Pragmatist philosophy of the social sciences.
Outline of a pragmatist view.
History and social sciences.
Some concluding remarks.
References and Bibliography.
British Journal of Socioliogy
“Patrick Baert has written another well argued and lucid introduction to methodological and theoretical problems in social research.”
“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
- 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.