Presentation on theme: "Philosophy and History of the Social Sciences. Social Sciences The social sciences deal with human behavior in its social and cultural aspects. Core disciplines:"— Presentation transcript:
Philosophy and History of the Social Sciences
Social Sciences The social sciences deal with human behavior in its social and cultural aspects. Core disciplines: cultural (social) anthropology, sociology, political science and economics Prescriptive and descriptive
Context of development Scientific model offered by natural sciences, including the ideas of progress and structure A new conception of the varieties of cultures and societies The idea of human society as conditioned by cultural and social circumstances
John Locke “Epistemological liberalization”: Locke introduces the possibility of probable knowledge (Essay concerning Human Understanding) enabling scientific/rigorous statements that do not have to meet the exact criteria of natural science.
Further contextual favourable circumstances Political and industrial revolutions The population question The emergence of the political ideologies
Economics Physiocrats (18th century): land as the source of wealth; the authorities should not intervene (the source of ”laissez-faire” principle) Mercantilists: government regulations are essential (tariffs, embargoes); the importance of trade balance; associated with political absolutism
Economics (contd.) A. Smith and D. Ricardo introducing new concepts: economically defined classes the division of labour the ”invisible hand” 19th century developments: the labour theory of value (K. Marx), Manchester liberalism and competition (H. Spencer)
Political Science Political science draws on ideas from other disciplines to explain political life. Hence, the absence of clear-cut traditions of inquiry. Political science draws on mainstream sociology, on social psychology, on institutional research (including from historical and legal contribution to institutional research) and from the history of political thought. Johan Skytte Chair of Eloquence and Government at Uppsala University in 1622
Sociology Auguste Comte: ”social physics” sociology; ”statics” and ”dynamics” A. de Tocqueville and F. Tönnies focussing on more specific issues Spencer’s view influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution
Sociology (contd.) Emile Durkheim: key figure in the development of sociology Social phenomena are external to individuals; the principle of emergence properties; ”social facts” are concrete entities Sociology’s aim: the study of the collective conscious (see Halbwachs’ collective memory)
Cultural Anthropology Status and contract societies (H. Maine) Cultural relativism (F. Boas) Functionalism (B. Malinowski)
Social Sciences at the turn of the 20 th century Most laws – conditional statements (”other things being equal”) Claims relying on value judgments Statistical and probabilistic factors
Max Weber (Sociology ) Methodological individualism (in contrast with Durkheim) Hermeneutics as a relevant approach ”The ideal type” Facts and values – freedom from value judgments necessary in science
Economics in the 20th century The end of classical economics J.M. Keynes – government intervention M. Friedman – monetarism – government controlling money supply The economic factor in the 1989 collapse of communism
Anthropology Claude Lévy- Strauss and structuralism - fields of knowledge interacting Clifford Geertz and interpretation – the importance of understandinig the context Identity politics, ethnicity, nationalism
Epistemological approaches in social sciences Scepticism: doubting a claim until solid evidence available Apriorism: ”the grand social theories” – dogmatic tendencies Empiricism: only data count – tendencies towards shallowness (Scientific) realism: granting real existence to social facts; allowing untested theories to further research
Contextul characterization of social sciences - by mid-20c by naturalism: they are like the natural sciences, using some of the same methods, searching for laws; - before and after mid-20c by interpretivism: they are not like natural sciences, they require interpretation; - by the end of 20c by skepticism: laws of social phenomena cannot be discovered, neither objective interpretations can be provided; there are varieties of skepticism: Marxism, feminism, postmodernism, etc.
Characteristic features Objects have meaning: saying “what” is going on is saying “why” it is going on. Historicity of the social sciences material: neither investigator nor object stand still, they change. Reflexivity: practioners’ claims about human phenomena influence the subjects’ reaction to those phenomena.