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The Philosophy of Social Science Reader

Edited by Francesco Guala, Daniel Steel

Routledge – 2011 – 444 pages

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    September 29th 2010
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The Philosophy of Social Science Reader is an outstanding, comprehensive and up-to-date collection of key readings in the philosophy of social science, covering the essential issues, problems and debates in this important interdisciplinary area.

Each section is carefully introduced by the editors, and the readings placed in context. The anthology is organized into seven clear parts:

  • Values and Social Science
  • Causal Inference and Explanation
  • Interpretation
  • Rationality and Choice
  • Individualism
  • Norms
  • Cultural Evolution.

Featuring the work of influential philosophers and social scientists such as Ernest Nagel, Ian Hacking, John Searle, Clifford Geertz, Daniel Kahneman, Steven Lukes and Richard Dawkins, The Philosophy of Social Science Reader is the ideal text for philosophy of social science courses, and for students in related disciplines interested in the differences between the social and natural sciences.


'This is a terrific anthology. It covers a broad range of interesting topics with a nice blend of classical articles and recent work and of traditional philosophy of social science topics such as methodological individualism along with newer areas of interest such as cultural evolution. It is very well suited for use in the classroom as well as for social scientists and philosophers looking for a survey of the current state of play in the field.' – Harold Kincaid, University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA

'The Philosophy of Social Science Reader, edited by Daniel Steel and Francesco Guala, is a welcome, well-organized, and brilliant collection, offering a novel look into a field that has changed enormously in the last 20 years.' María Jiménez Buedo, UNED, Spain in THEORIA


Introduction Part 1: Values and Social Science 1. The Value-Oriented Bias of Social Inquiry E. Nagel 2. The Looping Effects of Human Kinds I. Hacking 3. Powerlessness and Social Interpretation M. Fricker 4. The Feminist Question in Science: What Does it Mean to "Do Social Science as a Feminist?" A. Wylie Part 2: Causal Inference and Explanation 5. The Function of General Laws in History C. Hempel 6. Causes, Confirmation, and Explanation H. Kincaid 7. Explanation and Invariance in the Special Sciences J. Woodward 8. Social Mechanisms and Causal Inference D. Steel 9. The Similarity of Causal Inference in Experimental and Non-experimental Studies R. Scheines Part 3: Interpretation 10. Thick Description: Towards an Interpretive Theory of Culture C. Geertz 11. Uncovering Cultural Meaning: Problems and Solutions T. Jones 12. Interpretation Psychologized A. Goldman 13. The Psychological Basis of Historical Explanation: Reenactment, Simulation, and the Fusion of Horizons K. Stueber Part 4: Rationality and Choice 14. Advances in the Foundations of Rational Behavior J. Harsanyi 15. Maps of Bounded Rationality: A Perspective on Intuitive Judgment and Choice D. Kahneman 16. The Virtual Reality of Homo Economicus P. Pettit 17. Building Economic Machines: the FCC Auctions F. Guala Part 5: Methodological Individualism 18. Methodological Individualism Reconsidered S. Lukes 19. Explaining Institutions: A Defence of Reductionism M. Van Hees 20. Non-Reductive Individualism: Part I—Supervenience and Wild Disjunction K. Sawyer Part 6: Norms, Conventions, and Institutions 21. Coordination and Convention & Common Knowledge D. Lewis 22. Social Convention Revisited M. Gilbert 23. What Is an Institution? J. Searle 24. The Rules We Live By C. Bicchieri Part 7: Cultural Evolution 25. Memes: the New Replicators R. Dawkins 26. Selection and Attraction in Evolution D. Sperber 27. Bargaining with Neighbors: Is Justice Contagious? J. Alexander & B. Skyrms 28. Culture Evolves P. Richerson & R. Boyd

Author Bio

Francesco Guala is Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Milan, Italy. He is the author of The Methodology of Experimental Economics (2005), and of many articles published in philosophical and scientific journals. He is currently book review editor of the journal Economics and Philosophy.

Daniel Steel is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Michigan State University, USA. His research on causal inference and explanation in social science and biology has appeared in Philosophy of the Social Sciences, and The British Journal of the Philosophy of Science. He is the author of Across the Boundaries: Extrapolation in Biology and Social Science (2008).

Name: The Philosophy of Social Science Reader (Paperback)Routledge 
Description: Edited by Francesco Guala, Daniel Steel. The Philosophy of Social Science Reader is an outstanding, comprehensive and up-to-date collection of key readings in the philosophy of social science, covering the essential issues, problems and debates in this important interdisciplinary area. Each...
Categories: Philosophy of Social Science, Philosophy of Science, Sociology & Social Policy