Measuring the Intentional World: Realism, Naturalism, and Quantitative Methods in the Behavioral Sciences

Measuring the Intentional World: Realism, Naturalism, and Quantitative Methods in the Behavioral Sciences

Measuring the Intentional World: Realism, Naturalism, and Quantitative Methods in the Behavioral Sciences

Measuring the Intentional World: Realism, Naturalism, and Quantitative Methods in the Behavioral Sciences

Synopsis

Scientific realism has been advanced as an interpretation of the natural sciences but never the behavioral sciences. This exciting book introduces a novel version of scientific realism--Measured Realism--that characterizes the kind of theoretical progress in the social and psychological sciences that is uneven but indisputable. Trout proposes a theory of measurement--Population-Guided Estimation--that connects natural, psychological, and social scientific inquiry. Presenting quantitative methods in the behavioral sciences as at once successful and regulated by the world, Measuring the Intentional World will engage philosophers of science, historians of science, sociologists of science, and scientists interested in the foundations of their own disciplines.

Excerpt

In the last 100 years or so, the psychological and social sciences have enjoyed brisk progress. This progress coincided with the development of sophisticated quantitative methods and, where possible, lab studies. This book argues that a measured realism about the social and psychological sciences is warranted in light of the reliable role of quantitative methods in those domains. I propose a theory of measurement--Population-Guided Estimation--that connects natural, psychological, and social scientific inquiry. in doing so, I advance a version of epistemological naturalism that allows us to assimilate the essentially scientific notion of measurement into familiar epistemic categories.

Realist interpretations of the entities, laws, and theories of the natural sciences have become familiar fare for contemporary philosophers of science. Along with their empiricist and various antirealist opponents, realists typically draw their evidence exclusively from the mature sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology. This focus is understandable. in doing so, scientific realists attempt to select the clearest evidence of referential success for central theoretical terms and approximate truth of laws and background theories. Antirealists propose philosophical arguments against realist construals of the most mature sciences, reasoning that the undermining of the strongest cases for realism is also the most damaging to the realist. the cumulative effect, however, has been the nearly universal neglect of the social sciences and psychology in this dispute.

There is a history explaining philosophical neglect of the social sciences and psychology, along with the neglect of their emerging quantitative approaches. For . . .

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