A Realist Philosophy of Social Science: Explanation and by Peter T. Manicas

By Peter T. Manicas

This creation to the philosophy of social technological know-how presents an unique belief of the duty and nature of social inquiry. Peter Manicas discusses the position of causality noticeable within the actual sciences and provides a reassessment of the matter of clarification from a realist point of view. He argues that the elemental target of concept in either the ordinary and social sciences isn't really, opposite to frequent opinion, prediction and regulate, or the reason of occasions (including behaviour). as an alternative, concept goals to supply an realizing of the tactics which, jointly, produce the contingent results of expertise. providing a number of concrete illustrations and examples of severe rules and matters, this available ebook can be of curiosity to scholars of the philosophy of social technological know-how, and social scientists from various disciplines.

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If P, then necessarily Q. If the premises are true, we have provided sufficient grounds for believing that the explanandum is true. So, presumably, this fact is explained. But it is easy to construct counter-examples of D-N explanations with true premises which are just plain silly. They not only do not explain, but they do not even provide grounds for believing that the explanandum is true: Anyone who takes birth control pills regularly will not become pregnant. John took his wife’s pills regularly.

The upshot is radical contingency and, with it, critical limits on our ability to make predictions. 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.

Nor will we understand the outcome better if we repeat the experiment a hundred times. Rather, we now are directed to consider what it is about salt and water – or opium – such that salt dissolves in water, and opium induces sleep. This shifts the question from the presumption that any law-like regularity from which one can deduce the event to be explained counts as a scientific explanation. Critically, it also shifts the problem of explanation to the question of the nature of salt and of water – a theoretical question for science, and as we have noted, the answer to which can provide genuine understanding.

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