Social Science: Philosophical and Methodological Foundations

Social Science: Philosophical and Methodological Foundations

Social Science: Philosophical and Methodological Foundations

Social Science: Philosophical and Methodological Foundations

Synopsis

What is social science? Does social scientific knowledge differ from other kinds of knowledge, such as the natural sciences and common sense? What is the relation between method and knowledge? This concise and accessible book provides a critical discussion and comprehensive overview of the major philosophical debates on the methodological foundations of the social sciences. From its origins in the sixteenth century, when a new system of knowledge was created around the idea of modernity, the author shows how the philosophy of social science developed as a reflection on some of the central questions in modernity. From the positivist dispute on explanation versus. understanding, to controversies about standpoint through to debates about constructivism and realism, Delanty outlines the major shifts in the philosophy of social science. He argues that social science is an intellectual framework for the transformation of the social world. This new edition is updated and expanded throughout with the latest developments in the field, including a new chapter on feminist standpoint epistemology, and additional material on neo-positivism, pragmatism, and reflexivity. This is one of the most ambitious and wide-ranging texts in recent years on debates on method and the contemporary situation of social science. It is of interest to undergraduate students and postgraduates as well as to professional researchers with an interest in the philosophy of the social sciences and social theory.

Excerpt

In preparing this second edition I set myself the task of retaining the basic structure and rationale of the first book while at the same time adjusting it in light of omissions that have come to light in my reading and thinking over the past eight years. Some of the changes are the outcome of the anthology I edited with Piet Strydom, Philosophies of Social: The Classical and Contemporary Readings (2003).

While the basic structure and text remains intact, I have made changes - ranging from minor corrections to revised and in some cases new sections - to most chapters, and have substantially rewritten the chapter on constructivism. There is now a new chapter on reflexivity and a more qualified argument concerning constructivism. This is reflected in a change to the subtitle of the book.

Gerard Delanty November, 2004 . . .

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