The Idea of a Social Science and Its Relation to Philosophy
By Peter Winch
Introduction by Raimond Gaita
Routledge – 2008
Series: Routledge Classics
In the fiftieth anniversary of this book’s first release, Winch’s argument remains as crucial as ever. Originally published in 1958, The Idea of a Social Science and Its Relation to Philosophy was a landmark exploration of the social sciences, written at a time when that field was still young and had not yet joined the Humanities and the Natural Sciences as the third great domain of the Academy.
A passionate defender of the importance of philosophy to a full understanding of 'society' against those who would deem it an irrelevant 'ivory towers' pursuit, Winch draws from the works of such thinkers as Ludwig Wittgenstein, J.S. Mill and Max Weber to make his case. In so doing he addresses the possibility and practice of a comprehensive 'science of society'.
'Far and away the liveliest and most cogent of the responses yet made to that staid official judgement of some years ago, that political philosophy must now be presumed dead.' - Times Literary Supplement
Preface to the Second Edition Part 1: Philosophical Bearings 1. Aims and Strategy 2. The Underlabourer Conception of Philosophy 3. Philosophy and Science 4. The Philosopher's Concern with Language 5. Conceptual and Empirical Enquiries 6. The Pivotal Role of Epistemology in Philosophy 7. Epistemology and the Understanding of Society 8. Rules: Wittgenstein's Analysis 9. Some Misunderstandings of Wittgenstein Part 2: The Nature of Meaningful Behaviour 1. Philosophy and Sociology 2. Meaningful Behaviour 3. Activities and Precepts 4. Rules and Habits 5. Reflectiveness Part 3: The Social Studies as Science 1. J.S. Mill's 'Logic of the Moral Sciences' 2. Differences in Degree and Differences in Kind 3. Motives and Causes 4. Motives, Dispositions and Reasons 5. The Investigation of Regularities 6. Understanding Social Institutions 7. Prediction in the Social Studies Part 4: The Mind and Society 1. Pareto: Logical and Non-Logical Conduct 2. Pareto: Residues and Derivations 3. Max Weber: Verstehen and Causal Explanation 4. Max Weber: Meaningful Action and Social Action Part 5: Concepts and Actions 1. The Internality of Social Relations 2. Discursive and Non-Discursive 'Ideas' 3. The Social Sciences and History 4. Concluding Remark
Peter Winch (1926-1997). Born in Walthamstow, Essex, Peter Winch was an internationally respected Philosopher and an influential student of Wittgenstein. The Idea of a Social Science and its Relation to Philosophy is his most famous work.