Philosophy and Methodology in the Social Sciences

Philosophy and Methodology in the Social Sciences

Philosophy and Methodology in the Social Sciences

Philosophy and Methodology in the Social Sciences

Excerpt

The first six chapters of this book provide a systematic critique of epistemological and philosophical interventions in the social sciences and of prescriptive methodology in general. The first chapter examines the methodological doctrines of Max Weber and his definition of sociology a science of social action. I argue that Weber's definition of sociology is based on an essentially religious, metaphysical conception of man, that his methodology is relativistic and irrationalist, and that his concept of scientific objectivity is a façade for an underlying notion of verisimilitude, of plausibility and subjective conviction. The next two chapters deal directly with phenomenology and phenomenological sociology. The first is an extended critique of the work of Alfred Schutz, showing that it reduces the social sciences laterally to story-telling and, further, that far from being an application of Husserl's philosophy it represents a vulgar psychologistic distortion of it. The second examines Husserl's conception of the nature of the sciences and of philosophy in The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology and argues that, despite its rigour, Husserl's epistemology is structured around a number of crucial contradictions which render it ultimately incoherent. It follows that there can be no rational or coherent phenomenological 'foundation' of the social sciences. In the next three chapters I have developed an extend-

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