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'Science' in the Social Sciences

1. Learning Objectives

After reviewing this chapter readers should be able to:

  • Understand the nature and scope of a controversy in the philosophy of the social sciences regarding the causal explanation of types of human conduct.
  • Appreciate the relevance of later Wittgenstein analyses to some central methodological issues in sociology and other social sciences.
  • Understand the limits as well as the strengths of the critique of the social sciences offered by Peter Winch and some of his contemporaries.
  • Grasp the relationships that obtain between certain methodological strategies and the purposes of investigators in selecting them.
  • Become clear about the concept of ‘science’ in the social sciences and the ways in which it is used and also sometimes misused.