Peter T. Manicas's A Realist Philosophy of Social Science: Explanation and PDF

By Peter T. Manicas

This creation to the philosophy of social technological know-how offers an unique notion of the duty and nature of social inquiry. Peter Manicas discusses the function of causality visible within the actual sciences and provides a reassessment of the matter of clarification from a realist standpoint. He argues that the basic target of concept in either the traditional and social sciences isn't really, opposite to common opinion, prediction and keep watch over, or the reason of occasions (including behaviour). as a substitute, thought goals to supply an realizing of the techniques which, jointly, produce the contingent results of expertise. supplying a number of concrete illustrations and examples of serious rules and matters, this available e-book may be of curiosity to scholars of the philosophy of social technology, and social scientists from a variety of disciplines.

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Experiment and the concept of closure Following Harr´e (1970), and more recently, Bhaskar (1975), the key feature of experiments is that the experimenter actively intervenes in the course of nature. She makes things happen which otherwise would not have happened. Putting aside what might be called “exploratory experiments,” such as anatomical dissection, the aim of an experiment is to isolate or make constant all those properties except those one wants to study. Put roughly, the experimenter has a theory about some generative mechanism / causal process which, once initiated, has a predictable (in theory) outcome.

To call something a historical accident is but to say, as above, that it could not have been predicted, that there was an “incalculability” as regards what in fact happened. To speak of contingencies is to say only that there is 40 A Realist Philosophy of Social Science no reason to believe that the world is like the solar system as described by classical physics, a world where all the masses and their relations are accounted for and nothing new will happen. Meteorology, like evolutionary biology, is a historical science and, like geology, it draws on non-geological laws pertaining to the mechanical and thermodynamical properties of gases, solids and liquids.

But perhaps this is not at all their purpose? Hempel came to see that theoretical terms serve another and more critical purpose. As he said: When a scientist introduces theoretical entities such as electric currents, magnetic fields, chemical valences, or subconscious mechanisms, he intends them to serve as explanatory factors which have an existence independent of the observable symptoms by which they manifest themselves. (Hempel 1965: 205) Indeed! As argued in chapter 1, appeal to these ideas can explain exactly because they are taken to represent the generative mechanisms which 1 As in chapter 1, this is also the standard empiricist explication of dispositional terms, like water-soluble.

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