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Philosophy of Social Science - PHI00105I

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Robert Davies
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

This module aims to develop an understanding of the nature of society and of our knowledge of it through philosophical examination of the social sciences.

There are no formal prerequisites for taking the course, but knowledge of at least some social science and of some basic philosophy of science will be helpful.

The module will be taught by weekly lectures along with seminars in weeks 4, 6, 7 and 9.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Summer Term 2021-22

Module aims

This course aims to develop an understanding of the nature of society and of our knowledge of it through philosophical examination of the social sciences. Topics will include the naturalist and interpretivist methods of social scientific investigation, the construction of social reality, the role of values in social science, feminist methodology in social science, the methods of evolutionary explanation in social science, the autonomy of social science.

Module learning outcomes

Students should complete this course with knowledge of central debates concerning the methods of social scientific explanation, the nature of social reality, the scope and limits of scientific knowledge of society, the relation between social science and natural science. They should also have developed the ability to analyse the conceptual and normative presuppositions of social scientific theory, of its methods and of particular arguments made by philosophers and social scientists.

Module content

The module will examine a number of issues related to the particular methods of social scientific enquiry, the nature of social reality and the scope and limits of social scientific explanations.

Critical discussion of the naturalistic methods and the interpretivist methods will relate to the work of Marx, Mill, Durkheim, and Collingwood and to other contemporary authors.

The nature of social reality, including social actions and social facts, will be considered through the work of Weber and Searle.

The scope and limits of social scientific investigation will be explored through contemporary debates on the role of values in social science, feminist methodology in social science, evolutionary explanations in social science and the autonomy of social science.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Philosophy of Social Science
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Philosophy of Social Science
N/A 100

Module feedback

  • Students will receive feedback on their formative work before the end of term.
  • Students will receive feedback on their summative work 4 weeks after the exam takes place.

Indicative reading

Michael Martin and Lee C. McIntyre (1994). Readings in the Philosophy of Social Science. MIT Press.



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.