This volume is a unique contribution to the philosophy of the social sciences, presenting the results of cutting-edge philosophers' research alongside critical discussions by practicing social scientists. The book is motivated by the view that the philosophy of the social sciences cannot ignore the specific scientific practices according to which social scientific work is being conducted, and that it will be valuable only if it evolves in constant interaction with theoretical developments in the social sciences. With its unique format guaranteeing a genuine discussion between philosophers and social scientists, this thought-provoking volume extends the frontiers of the field. It will appeal to all scholars and students interested in the interplay between philosophy and the social sciences.
Introduction C. Mantzavinos; Part I. Basic Problems of Sociality: 1. Language and social ontology John R. Searle; Comment: De Rerum Natura: dragons of obliviousness and the science of social ontology Mark Turner; 2. Shared agency Michael E. Bratman; Comment: Where is the social? Pierre Demeulenaere; 3. The reality of group agents Philip Pettit; Comment: A note on group agents Diego Rios; Part II. Laws and Explanation in the Social Sciences: 4. Physicalism and the human sciences David Papineau; Comment: Reductionism in the human sciences: a philosopher's game Robert G. Shulman and Ian Shapiro; 5. Complexity and explanation in the social sciences Sandra Mitchell; Comment: Conditional knowledge: an oxymoron? James Alt; 6. The heterogeneous social: new thinking about the foundations of the social sciences Daniel Little; Comment: Causal mechanisms and generalizations Jack Knight; 7. What is this thing called 'efficacy'? Nancy Cartwright; Comment: Randomized controlled trials and public policy Gerd Gigerenzer; Part III. How Philosophy and the Social Sciences Can Enrich Each Other: Three Examples: 8. Why do people cooperate as much as they do? James Woodward; Comment: Putting the problem of social order into perspective Werner Güth and Hartmut Kliemt; 9. Situations against virtues: the situationist attack on virtue theory Ernest Sosa; Comment: Do people have character-traits? Steven Lukes; 10. What kind of problem is the hermeneutic circle? C. Mantzavinos; Comment: Going in circles David-Hillel Ruben; Epilogue C. Mantzavinos.
“This very interesting collection will provide a new framework for the discussion in the philosophy of the social sciences. Mantzavinos’s volume will be a standard reading for any seminar on the philosophy of the social sciences.”
Hans Albert, Heidelberg
“Should we take personal identity and other familiar notions for granted? Can an agency status be granted to groups? Should the social sciences really care about character traits or concentrate on situations, intentions, motivations and reasons in the explanation of social action? Why is methodological individualism persistently regarded as solipsistic? Are there social laws or merely social mechanisms? Will the social and cognitive sciences be ever articulated with one another? Should the social sciences aim at interpreting or explaining? Is Verstehen an alternative to – or an ingredient of – explanation ? Taking the form of a dialogue between social scientists and philosophers, the book offers a lively contribution to some lasting issues in the philosophy of the social sciences.”
Raymond Boudon, Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques
“A collection of first rate work by pre-eminent theorists all in top form. Individually and as a whole the essays make substantial contributions to the most fundamental questions in the philosophy of the social sciences: from the nature of group activity and collective agency to distinctions among the various modes of explanation suitable to understanding our social lives.”
Jules L. Coleman, Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld Professor of Jurisprudence and Professor of Philosophy, Yale University