Philosophy of the Social Sciences

Philosophy of the Social Sciences : Towards Pragmatism

3.33 (12 ratings by Goodreads)
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In this ground-breaking new text, Patrick Baert analyses thecentral perspectives in the philosophy of social science, critically investigating the work of Durkheim, Weber, Popper, critical realism, critical theory, and Rorty's neo pragmatism.

Places key writers in their social and political contexts, helping to make their ideas meaningful to students.

Shows how these authors' views have practical uses inempirical research.

Lively approach that makes complex ideas understandable toupper-level students, as well as having scholarly appeal.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text | 264 pages
  • Polity Press
  • United Kingdom
  • 0745699987
  • 9780745699981

Table of contents


Chapter 1. Emile Durkheim's naturalism.


An uneasy relationship with positivism.

How to be a proper sociologist.

Application: the study of suicide.


Further reading.


Chapter 2. Max Weber's interpretative method.


Transcending the Methodenstreit.

Ideal types and different types of action.

Application: the Protestant Ethic.


Further reading.


Chapter 3. Karl Popper's falsificationism.


What science is about.

The controversy with Kuhn.

How to make social science scientific.

The problem with historicism and utopianism.

Methodological individualism.


Further reading.


Chapter 4. Critical realism.

The realist bandwagon.

Realism, reality and causality.

Creative scientists at work.

Contributions to social theory.

Application: British politics.


Further reading.


Chapter 5. Critical Theory.


The Early Frankfurt School.

Jurgen Habermas.

Further reading.


Chapter 6. Richard Rorty and Pragmatism.


American pragmatism and Rorty.

The myth of scientific method.

The new left and the cultural left.


Further reading.


Chapter 7. A Pragmatist philosophy of the socialsciences.

Outline of a pragmatist view.

Cultural anthropology.


History and social sciences.

Some concluding remarks.


References and Bibliography.

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Review quote

"Baert's summary of influential perspectives in thehistory of social-scientific concept formation is very useful andcan be recommended as a current brand-leader amongst textbooks inthis field ... This book extends its scope beyond the provision ofreliable summary and it leads theory forward in an engaged andproductive direction."
British Journal of Socioliogy"Patrick Baert has written another well argued and lucidintroduction to methodological and theoretical problems in socialresearch."
Sociological Review

"Patrick Baert elegantly and skilfully demonstrates thecontinuities between philosophical and social scientific concernsin this field. This book contains both an outstanding criticaldiscussion and a powerful argument for a pragmatistposition."
William Outhwaite, University of Sussex

"Baert's thorough-going pragmatism is an enormouslypromising redirection of philosophical debate in and about thesocial sciences. This is an ambitious treatment of canonicalfigures whose philosophical reflection has been influential in thesocial science - Durkheim, Weber, Popper, the criticalrealists, Habermas, and several latter day pragmatists. Crucially, it is a treatment that exemplifies what Baert advocates: hecontextualizes these theorists and their arguments, puts them indialog with one another, and extracts philosophical lessons thatnot only bear on
philosophical traditions of debate but that are consequential forsocial scientists as well. I recommend it to anyone, philosopher orsocial scientist, student or established professional, who thinkscritically about the goals and assumptions of the socialsciences."
Alison Wylie, University of Washington
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About Patrick Baert

Patrick Baert is University Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Selwyn College, Cambridge
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Rating details

12 ratings
3.33 out of 5 stars
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4 42% (5)
3 25% (3)
2 25% (3)
1 0% (0)
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