The Philosophy of the Social Sciences

The Philosophy of the Social Sciences

The Philosophy of the Social Sciences

The Philosophy of the Social Sciences

Excerpt

I have written this book very deliberately for people to whom philosophy as an academic subject is unfamiliar, in the belief that they are missing something important. The person I have had in mind is the student of social ‘science’, not ill disposed towards philosophy as broadly conceived, but often developing an entrenched hostility when detail and manner of argument, no matter how misleadingly, create a sense of irritating and burdensome irrelevance. What I should like to have done is to have combined simplicity and a stress on the big issues behind the detailed argumentation with the rigour and precision that are the major strengths of recent Anglo-Saxon philosophy. But with writers of modest powers such as my own these objectives compete for attention, and I am more than conscious of the likelihood of having paid for intelligibility (though never intentionally, I may say) with vagueness and oversimplification. I have taken two steps to ameliorate the situation: first, by leaving issues open, I have tried to make the point that a great deal of detailed argumentation must intervene between a reading of my introduction of an issue and arriving at a properly defensible conclusion upon it; and, second, I have tried to point at every stage to other reading which would take the argument further.

Choosing the words that follow, and deciding on their best order, has taken a ridiculously long time, and consequently has involved the indulgence and relied on the help of a disproportionate number of people. As the book finally goes to press I find my memory unequal to the task of reliably identifying those—mostly students— . . .

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