The Philosophy of Social Science: A Contemporary Introduction examines the perennial questions of philosophy by engaging with the empirical study of society. The book offers a comprehensive overview of debates in the field, with special attention to questions arising from new research programs in the social sciences. The text uses detailed examples of social scientific research to motivate and illustrate the philosophical discussion. Topics include the relationship of social policy to social science, interpretive research, action explanation, game theory, social scientific accounts of norms, joint intentionality, reductionism, causal modeling, case study research, and experimentation.
Mark Risjord is Professor of Philosophy at Emory University.
1. Introduction 1.1. What is the Philosophy of Social Science? The Democratic Peace Azande Witchcraft Freedom Riders and Free Riders Philosophy in the Social Sciences 1.2. A Tour of the Philosophical Neighborhood Normativity Naturalism Reductionism Excelsior! 2. Objectivity, Values, and the Possibility of a Social Science 2.1. The Ideal of Value-Freedom The United States Census Dimensions of Value-Freedom A Moderate Thesis of Value-Freedom 2.2. Impartiality and Theory Choice Risk and Error What About Objectivity? 2.3. Essentially Contested Ideas Value-Neutrality and Emancipatory Research Objection: Values and the Logic of Discovery Value Presuppositions and Implicatures 2.4. Wrap up Chapter Summary Discussion Questions Further Reading 3. Theories, Interpretations, and Concepts 3.1. Aggression, Violence, and Video Games 3.2. Defining theoretical concepts The Empiricist View of Concepts and Theory Structure Realism, Instrumentalism, and the Problem of Construct Validity 3.3. Interpretivism Ideal Types and Verstehen Hermeneutics and Meaning Thick Description and its Challenges 3.4. Realism and Social Concepts Social Constructions Realism about Social Kinds Looping Effects 3.5. Wrap up Chapter Summary Discussion questions Further Reading 4. Interpretive Methodology 4.1. Evidence for Interpretation Qualitative Research Methods and Their Presuppositions Authority and Authenticity Reflexivity 4.2. Rationality, Explanation, and Interpretive Charity The Problem of Apparent Irrationality Relativism and Rationality The Principle of Charity 4.3. Cognition, Evolution, and Interpretation Bounded and Unbounded Rationality Cognitive Roots of Culture Interpretation and Cognitive Explanation The New Questions of Naturalism 4.4. Wrap up Chapter Summary Discussion questions Further Reading Notes to Chapter 4 5. Action and Agency 5.1. Explaining Action Admiral Tryon and Instrumental Rationality The Function of General Laws in History Reasons and Causes Re-enactment: Verstehen Revisited 5.2. The Games People Play Rationality and Utility Games and Strategies Equilibria Nash Equilibria and the Battle of the Bismarck Sea Multiple Equilibria and Coordination Problems 5.3. Agency The Psychological Plausibility of Rational Choice Theory Rational Fools? Game Theory in the Laboratory Instrumentalism and Structuralism 5.4. Wrap up Chapter Summary Discussion questions Further Reading 6. Reductionism: Structures, Agents, and Evolution 6.1. Explaining Revolutions 6.2. Social Theory and Social Ontology The Individualism-Holism Debate Definition and Theoretical Reduction Supervenience Methodological Localism 6.3. Agents and Social Explanations Methodological Individualism Microfoundations and Moderate Explanatory Individualism Agency and Mechanistic Explanation 6.4. Evolutionary Explanations Functions in Evolutionary Perspective Selectionist Explanations of Cooperation and the Evolution of Norms Consequences of Selectionism for the Social Sciences 6.5. Wrap up Chapter Summary Discussion questions Further Reading 7. Social Norms 7.1. Disenchanting the social world Is and Ought Normativism Good Bad Theories 7.2. Norms and Rational Choices Convention Conventionality and Normativity Social Norms 7.3. Normativity and Practice Norms and practices Problems for Practice Theory Practices Without Regularities 7.4. Reductionism and Naturalized Normativity Normativism and Holism Norms, Naturalism, and Supervenience Prospects for Naturalized Normativity 7.5. Wrap up Chapter Summary Discussion questions Further Reading 8. Intentions, Institutions, and Collective Action 8.1. Agency and Collective Intentionality Team Reasoning Joint Commitment Group agency 8.2. Joint Intentionality Cooperation Again: Ontogeny and Development Plans and Joint Intentions We-intentions and the We-mode Acting as a Group Member 8.3. Intentions and Institutions The Strange Tale of the Druid Penny Function and Rules in Institutions Explaining Social Institutions 8.4. Wrap up Chapter Summary Discussion questions Further Reading 9. Causality and Law in the Social World 9.1. The Democratic Peace Hypothesis 9.2. Are There Social Scientific Laws? Characteristics of Natural Laws Creativity and Complexity 9.3. Conceptualizing Causation Constant Conjunction Linear Equation Modeling and Causal Regularities Interventionism Capacities and Nomological Engines 9.4. Models and Mechanisms Secret Springs and Principles Correlations, Black Boxes, and Processes Middle Range Theory and Agent-Based Models 9.5. Wrap up Chapter Summary Discussion questions Further Reading 10. Methodologies of Causal Inference 10.1. Bayesian Networks and Causal Modeling Confounds and Common Causes Bayesian Inference Challenges to Causal Modeling 10.2. Case Studies and Causal Structure The Apparent Value of Case Studies Epistemological Challenges of Case Studies Justification and Discovery 10.3. Experimentation What Can We Learn From Social Scientific Experimentation? Quasi-Experiments and Randomized Controlled Trials 10.4. Extrapolation and Social Engineering Evidence-based Policy The FCC Auction Breaking the Extrapolator's Circle Performativity and Social Engineering 10.5. Wrap up Chapter Summary Discussion questions Further Reading