Philosophical Foundations of the Social Sciences: Analyzing Controversies in Social Research

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Cambridge University Press, 1996 - Science - 283 pages
This book defends the prospects for a science of society. It argues that behind the diverse methods of the natural sciences lies a common core of scientific rationality that the social sciences can and sometimes do achieve. It also argues that good social science must be in part about large-scale social structures and processes and thus that methodological individualism is misguided. These theses are supported by a detailed discussion of actual social research, including theories of agrarian revolution, organizational ecology, social theories of depression, and supply-demand explanations in economics.

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I really can't believe no one has reviewed this book. Kincaid is addressing one of the key issues of our time and doing it in an easy to read, objective, absolutely rational manner. He is trying to show that social science can lead us to law-like statements about human societies and so to rational choices about the future of our species. If that doesn't matter, I don't know what does. Anyway, he makes an excellent case for the proposition that, done with discipline and care, social science really can produce rigorous, law-like generalizations about us, generalizations that can be tested and applied in the real world. He takes on the heavyweights like Searle, Davidson, Taylor, Quine, Rorty, and others and, at least as far as I can see, disarms all of their most famous criticsms of social science. He also offers examples of social science research that do contain just as much rigor, reason, and empirical support as the vast majority of the research done in the physical sciences. My views on the philosophy of Science were expanded and sharpened enormously by this book.  

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