Philosophical considerations and positions underlie all of the natural and social sciences. In the latter case philosophical foundations and their emergent issues have a profound impact on methodology and empirical practice. Design decisions will usually depend on philosophical perspectives or assumptions, such as the very fundamental decision to employ a quantitative design or an interpretive design. The 'philosophy of social research' is thus a subset of the philosophy of social science, but also an important subject area that spans methodology and method.
The articles making up this timely collection are the best exemplars of key positions in a very wide disciplinary field. The selection is designed to begin each section with an 'entry level' article to introduce the reader to the topic area and to ground the approach a research problem. Topics covered include science and art in the history of social research, positivism and antipositivism, language and the linguistic turn, realism and anti-realism, theory and theory choice, logic and models, prediction and laws, interpretation, probability and complexity.
With the study of the philosophical foundations of methods and methodology gaining increasing priority in university courses, this will be a valuable resource for academics and researchers across the social sciences.
Malcolm Williams is Professor and Director at the Cardiff School of Social Sciences. His interests are primarily in the area of research methods and methodology and he has published extensively in these areas. His particular interests are in objectivity, causailty and probability, representation and the pedagogy of quantitative methods.
Volume One: Social Research as Science or Art PART ONE: THE CHALLENGE TO SCIENCE AND ITS DEFENCE Introduction - Williams Philosophical Foundations and Empirical Social Research The Art of Social Science - R Redfield Is It a Science? - S Morgenbesser Roscher's Historical Method - M Weber Unity of Method in the Natural and Social Sciences - K Popper Valid and Invalid Alternatives to Social Science - M Steuer The Relevance of Methodology - P Lazarsfeld The Perestroikan Challenge to Social Science - D Laitin Beyond Paradigm - S Schram Resisting the Assimilation of Phronetic Social Science Art in Science? - E Eisner and K Powell PART TWO: POSITIVISM AND ANTI-POSITIVISM Two Tradition - G H Von Wright Positivism Reconsidered - C Bryant Methodology in the Social Sciences - R Holub The Positivist Debate Positivism, Naturalism and Anti-Naturalism in the Social Sciences - R Keat Contemporary Positivism in Sociology - G Lundberg Positivism in Sociological Research - C Gartrell and J Gartrell USA and UK (1966-1990) Interpretive Interactionism - N Denzin The Basic Belief Systems of the Conventional and Constructivist Paradigm - E Guba and Y Lincoln On Demonstration - A Tudor Quantitative and Qualitative Research Strategies in Knowing the Social World - A Bryman The Qualitative-Quantitative Debate - A Clark Moving from Positivism and Confrontation to Post-Positivism and Reconciliation Volume Two: Philosophical Issues in Research Strategies PART ONE: CAUSALITY, EXPLANATION AND LAWS Laws of Nature and Causality - R Braithwaite Causal Thinking... - H Blalock Axioms of Causation - R MacIver The Meaning and Measurement of Causal Effect - O Hellevik Causation, Statistics and Sociology - J Goldthorpe To Justify or Explain in History or Social Science? - E Madden Limitations of Statistics - W Ogburn Prediction in Sociology - A Aldridge Prospects for a Devalued Activity The Quest for Universals in Sociological Research - R Turner Is the Case for Social Science Laws Strengthening? - C Beed PART TWO: REPRESENTATION THEORIES AND MODELS Operational Definitions Operationally Defined - S Dodd Some Notes on Operationism and the Concept of Validity - B Anderson Theory, Measurement and Replication in the Social Sciences - H Blalock On Being 'Empirical' without Being Empiricist - R Pawson Functionalism and the Survey - J Platt The Relation of Theory and Method Theoretical Models - J Skvoretz Sociology's Missing Link PART THREE: INTERPRETATION, LANGUAGE AND MEANING The Methods of Ethnology and Social Anthropology - A R Radcliffe-Brown The Role of Understanding in the Human Studies - H Rickman The Meaning of Meaningful Behavior - M Bunzl Language in Social Science - K Webb From the Native's Point of View - C Geertz On the Nature of Anthropological Understanding Interpretive Social Science and the 'Native's' Point of View - T Jones Quality in Qualitative Research - C Seal Volume Three: Social Reality and the Social Context of Social Research PART ONE: REALISM AND ANTI-REALISM Realist Philosophy of Science - R Keat and J Urry Realist Philosophy of the Social Sciences and Economics - P Beart A Critique Observations on Positivism and Pseudoscience in Qualitative Nursing Research - M Johnson Making up People - I Hacking Social Construction as Ontology - D Nightingale and J Cromby Middle Range Theory - K Menzies A Realist View Middle Range Realism - R Pawson Bhaskar's Critical Realism - M Hammersley PART TWO: OBJECTIVITY, COMMITMENT AND THE POLITICS OF SOCIAL ENQUIRY Whose Side Are We on? - H Becker Anti Minotaur - A Gouldner The Myth of a Value-Free Sociology The Value-Orientated Bias of Social Enquiry - E Nagel Situated Objectivity - M Williams The Institutionalization of Social Inquiry - J Barnes Participatory Action Research - L Krimerman Should Social Inquiry Be Conducted Democratically? Reflexivity and Ethnographic Research - C Davies Reflexivity and Sociological Practice - T May PART THREE: INDIVIDUALS, WHOLES AND UNITS OF ANALYSIS Methodological Individualism - G Homans Behind Methodological Individualism - G Hodgson Ten Modes of Individualism - None of Which Works - and Their Alternatives - M Bunge Institutional Individualism and Institutional Change - F Toboso The Search for a Middle Way Mode of Explanation Current Issues in Comparative Macrosociology - J Goldthorpe A Debate on Methodological Issues Turning the Tables - C Ragin How Case-Orientated Research Challenges Variable-Orientated Research Part/Whole Morphology - T Scheff Unifying Single Cases and Comparative Methods Volume Four: New Strategies in Social Research PART ONE: PROBABILITY, COMPLEXITY AND NEURAL NETWORKS Theories about Probability - I Hacking The Nature of Measurement - D Byrne What We Measure and How We Measure The Propensities of Evolving Systems - R Ulanowicz Complexity and the Quantitative Programme in Social Science - D Byrne Webs of Chaos - W Stroup Implications for Research Designs Comments on Neural Networks - H Paik Time-Series Analysis with Neural Networks and ARIMA-Neural Network Hybrids - J Hansen and Nelson PART TWO: FEMINISM AND SOCIAL RESEARCH Is There a Feminist Method? - S Harding Sexism in Research - M Eichler Quoting and Counting - G Letherby The Qualitative/Quantitative Divide Gender, Methodology and People's Ways of Knowing - A Oakley Feminism and Epistemology - J Holmwood What Kind of Successor Science? Introduction to Mixed Method and Mixed Model Studies in the Social and Behavioral Sciences - A Tashakkori and C Teddlie On the Integration of the Social Sciences - F Heller The Rashomon Effect - W Roth and J Mehta Combining Positivist and Interpretivist Approaches in the Analysis of Contested Events Numbers and Narratives - R Nash Further Reflections in the Sociology of Education Methodological Triangulation in Nursing Research - M Risjord, M Moloney and Dunbar Triangulation Revisited - U Flick Strategy of Validation or Alternative Contingency, Reality and Plurality in Social Research - M Williams