- Department: Philosophy
- Module co-ordinator: Dr. Fiora Salis
- Credit value: 20 credits
- Credit level: I
- Academic year of delivery: 2023-24
- See module specification for other years: 2024-25
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 a weekly lecture and seminar.
|Semester 2 2023-24
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 methods of evolutionary explanation in the social sciences, the role of values in social sciences, feminist methodology in the social sciences, the autonomy of the social sciences.
By the end of this module, students should be able to…
Critically evaluate the relative merits of naturalist and interpretivist methods in social scientific investigation.
Explain and evaluate theories of the construction of social reality.
Defend informed opinions concerning the scope and limits of scientific knowledge of society, and the relation between social science and natural science.
Identify and analyse conceptual and normative presuppositions of social scientific theory, of its methods, and of particular arguments made by philosophers and social scientists.
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 Karl Marx, John Stuart Mill, Émile Durkheim, and Robin Collingwood and to other contemporary authors. The nature of social reality, including social actions and social facts, will be considered through the work of Max Weber and John 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 the social sciences.
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Feedback will be given in accordance with the policies of the University and the Philosophy Department.
Michael Martin and Lee C. McIntyre (eds.) 1994. Readings in the Philosophy of Social Science. MIT Press.
Harold Kincaid (ed.) 2012. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Social Science. Oxford University Press.
Cassandra L. Pinnick, Noretta Koertge, and Robert F. Almeder (eds.) 2003. Scrutinizing Feminist Epistemology: An Examination of Gender in Science. New Brunswick (New Jersey): Rutgers University Press