Philosophies of Social Science: The Classic and Contemporary Readings

Philosophies of Social Science: The Classic and Contemporary Readings

Philosophies of Social Science: The Classic and Contemporary Readings

Philosophies of Social Science: The Classic and Contemporary Readings

Excerpt

The aim of this reader is to attempt to map out systematically the field of the philosophy of social science as viewed from the perspective of the early twenty-first century. It contains key extracts from the classic and contemporary works dealing with questions of epistemology, methodology and knowledge in social science raised in the course of the twentieth century. The field has undergone drastic transformation, especially during the second half of the twentieth century, and as a consequence a range of approaches are competing with one another today, none of which can claim to be the leader. We are convinced, however, that the way in which the selected texts in this book are brought together indicates the broad direction in which the field is currently moving.

The book is the outcome of collaboration between two social scientists, more specifically sociologists, both of whom have a long-standing shared interest in the philosophy of social science. Practical and pedagogical considerations served as the initial motivation for the collection of the readings. None of the relatively few available anthologies succeed in covering the diversity and range of issues and currents that we regard as necessary for the purposes of teaching courses on the philosophy and methodology of social science in the twenty-first century. On the one hand, therefore, this reader can be regarded as a volume complementing Gerard Delanty's Social Science: Beyond Constructivism and Realism (1997) by providing the necessary textual backup for the arguments developed there. On the other hand, however, the present volume also pursues some of the major currents and developments further than was possible in that book. This is particularly true of the rejuvenated cognitive current in the social sciences in which Piet Strydom has been interested for some time. In so far as it goes beyond its companion volume, the present book involves more than just an exercise in fulfilling practical and pedagogical needs. It was also undertaken out of friendship and the furthering of our own closely related and overlapping concerns. However, we avoided imposing these concerns of ours too strongly on the selection of the texts in order to encourage discussion through the presentation of contrasting positions and allow glimpses of the complexity of the issues.

As in editing any collection of readings, we have had to be selective. The readings chosen have been taken for their classic status and for being representative of major . . .

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