An introduction to the philosophy of social science from a well-known author.
This is an introductory survey to the philosophy of science suitable for beginners and nonspecialists. Its point of departure is the question: why should we believe what science tells us about the world? In this attempt to justify the claims of science the book treats such topics as observation data, confirmation of theories, and the explanation of phenomena. The writing is clear and concrete with detailed examples drawn from contemporary science: solar neutrinos, the gravitational bending of light, and the creation/evolution debate, for example. What emerges is a view of science in which observation relies on theory to give it meaning and credibility, while theory relies on observation for its motivation and validation. It is shown that this reciprocal support is not circular since the theory used to support a particular observation is independent of the theory for which the observation serves as evidence.
This book explores central philosophical concepts, issues, and debates in the philosophy of science, both historical and contemporary.
How should we theorize about the social world? How can we integrate theories, models and approaches from seemingly incompatible disciplines? Does theory affect social reality? This state-of-the-art collection addresses contemporary methodological questions and interdisciplinary developments in the philosophy of social science. Facilitating a mutually enriching dialogue, chapters by leading social scientists are followed by critical evaluations from philosophers of social science. This exchange showcases recent major theoretical and methodological breakthroughs and challenges in the social sciences, as well as fruitful ways in which the analytic tools developed in philosophy of science can be applied to understand these advancements. The volume covers a diverse range of principles, methods, innovations and applications, including scientific and methodological pluralism, performativity of theories, causal inferences and applications of social science to policy and business. Taking a practice-orientated and interactive approach, it offers a new philosophy of social science grounded in and relevant to the emerging social science practice.
"Our topic here is psychology, the self-styled science of the mind. Psychology's aim is to explain mental phenomena by describing the underlying processes, systems, and mechanisms that give rise to them. These hidden causal levers underlie all of our mental feats, including our richest conscious perceptions, our most subtle chains of reasoning, and our widest-ranging plans and actions. While the phenomena of mind are intimately related to events occurring in the brain, these psychological explanations are, we will argue, distinct and autonomous from explanations in terms of neural processes and mechanisms. According to the view we present here, psychology and neuroscience are different enterprises. We certainly wouldn't claim that our ever-increasing understanding of how the brain works has nothing to say to psychology: on the contrary, they are complimentary, since neuroscience can provide invaluable input to psychological theorizing (and vice versa, a point that we think is not stressed often enough). But our task will be to give a thorough account of the scope, methods, content, and prospects for a distinctive science of our mental lives"--
Providing a comprehensive introduction to political philosophy, this 2006 book combines discussion of historical and contemporary figures, together with numerous real-life examples. It ranges over an unusually broad range of topics in the field, including the just distribution of wealth, both within countries and globally; the nature and justification of political authority; the meaning and significance of freedom; arguments for and against democratic rule; the problem of war; and the grounds for toleration in public life. It also offers an accessible, non-technical discussion of perfectionism, utilitarianism, theories of the social contract, and of recently popular forms of critical theory. Throughout, the book challenges readers to think critically about political arguments and institutions that they might otherwise take for granted. It will be a provocative text for any student of philosophy or political science.
Now revised and updated, this introduction to decision theory is both accessible and comprehensive, covering topics including decision making under ignorance and risk, the foundations of utility theory, the debate over subjective and objective probability, Bayesianism, causal decision theory, game theory, and social choice theory. No mathematical skills are assumed, with all concepts and results explained in non-technical and intuitive as well as more formal ways. There are now over 140 exercises with solutions, along with a glossary of key terms and concepts. This second edition includes a new chapter on risk aversion as well as updated discussions of numerous central ideas, including Newcomb's problem, prisoner's dilemmas, and Arrow's impossibility theorem. The book will appeal particularly to philosophy students but also to readers in a range of disciplines, from computer science and psychology to economics and political science.
This introduction to the philosophy of mathematics focuses on contemporary debates in an important and central area of philosophy. The reader is taken on a fascinating and entertaining journey through some intriguing mathematical and philosophical territory, including such topics as the realism/anti-realism debate in mathematics, mathematical explanation, the limits of mathematics, the significance of mathematical notation, inconsistent mathematics and the applications of mathematics. Each chapter has a number of discussion questions and recommended further reading from both the contemporary literature and older sources. Very little mathematical background is assumed and all of the mathematics encountered is clearly introduced and explained using a wide variety of examples. The book is suitable for an undergraduate course in philosophy of mathematics and, more widely, for anyone interested in philosophy and mathematics.
This 1989 book is intended as an introductory survey of the philosophy of the social sciences. It is essentially a work of exposition which offers a toolbox of mechanisms - nuts and bolts, cogs and wheels - that can be used to explain complex social phenomena. Within a brief compass, Jon Elster covers a vast range of topics. His point of departure is the conflict we all face between our desires and our opportunities. How can rational choice theory help us understand our motivation and behaviour? More significantly, what happens when the theory breaks down but we still cleave to a belief in the power of the rational? Elster describes the fascinating range of forms of irrationality - wishful thinking, the phenomenon of sour grapes, discounting the future in noncooperative behaviour. This is a remarkably lucid and comprehensive introduction to the social sciences for students of political science, philosophy, sociology and economics.
"An Introduction to Rights is the only accessible and readable introduction to the history, logic, moral implications, and political tendencies of the idea of rights. It is organized chronologically and discusses important historical events such as the French Revolution. It deals with historical figures, including Grotius, Paley, Hobbes, Locke, Bentham, Burke, Godwin, Mill, and Hohfeld, and covers contemporary debates, including consequentialism versus contractualism"--Provided by publisher.