Philosophy of Social Science

Philosophy of Social Science

Philosophy of Social Science

Philosophy of Social Science


This is an expanded and thoroughly revised edition of the widely adopted introduction to the philosophical foundations of the human sciences. Ranging from cultural anthropology to mathematical economics, Alexander Rosenberg leads the reader through behaviorism, naturalism, interpretativism about human action, and macrosocial scientific perspectives, illuminating the motivation and strategy of each. Rewritten throughout to increase accessibility, this new edition retains the remarkable achievement of revealing the social sciences' enduring relation to the fundamental problems of philosophy. It includes new discussions of positivism, European philosophy of history, causation, statistical laws, quantitative models, and postempiricist social science, along with a completely updated literature guide that keys chapters to widely anthologized papers.


Despite its defects, the first edition of this work was successful enough to make an attempt to improve it worthwhile. This edition differs very substantially from the first in its expression. Almost the entire text has been rewritten to make it more accessible to its intended audience--undergraduate and graduate students in the social sciences interested in the foundations of their disciplines but without significant background in philosophy.

Because it is addressed to readers with substantial background in the social sciences, this work spends less time on illustrating its themes by examples in the various disciplines and more time trying to make clear the philosophical problems raised by these disciplines. Readers seeking examples from social science that illustrate philosophical disputes to be elaborated here may wish to read Daniel Little, Varieties of Social Explanation (Westview Press).

My focus on philosophical foundations is the result of my belief that philosophy is an unavoidable topic for any social or behavioral scientist. But since few social scientists will actually find themselves debating issues in philosophy, I have avoided introducing a large number of labels for the various theories under discussion by philosophers. Though most of the theories with labels recognizable by philosophers make an appearance in the pages to follow, it is far more important for readers to understand the philosophical substance of these views than to remember their often distracting labels. Understanding a philosophical problem is no easy task. The labels for varying solutions to it are less important.

Philosophy is an unavoidable topic for social scientists because the choices they make in answering questions in their disciplines force them to take sides on issues in philosophy. The philosophy of social science is equally necessary for philosophers who think their interests are wholly . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.