Beyond Relativism: Raymond Boudon, Cognitive Rationality and Critical Realism (Paperback) book cover

Beyond Relativism

Raymond Boudon, Cognitive Rationality and Critical Realism

By Cynthia Lins Hamlin

© 2002 – Routledge

168 pages

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Paperback: 9780415523998
pub: 2012-01-20
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pub: 2001-11-22
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This book argues that critical realism offers the theory of cognitive rationality a real way of overcoming the limitations of methodological individualism by recognising both the agents' - and the social structure's - causal powers and liabilities. Cynthia Lins Hamlin persuasively argues that critical realism represents a better safeguard against the relativism which springs from the conflation of social reality and our ideas about it.

This is an important book for sociologists and anyone working in the social sciences, and for all those concerned with the methodology, and philosophy, of social science.

Table of Contents

1. The Action Paradigm: Bringing the Agent Back In

2. Linking Structure and Agency in Boudon's Substantive Analyses

3. Beyond Homo Sociologicus and Homo Oeconomicus: a Complex Theory of Rationality

4. Understanding, Explanation and Objectivity

5. Conclusion

About the Author

Cynthia Lins Hamlin is a lecturer in social theory at the Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil. She is currently the editor of the Brazilian journal Estudos de Sociologica

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Critical Realism (Routledge Critical Realism)

Critical Realism is a broad movement within philosophy and social science. It is a movement that began in British philosophy and sociology following the founding work of Roy Bhaskar, Margaret Archer and others. Critical Realism emerged from the desire to realise an adequate realist philosophy of science, social science, and of critique. Against empiricism, positivism and various idealisms (interpretivism, radical social constructionism), Critical Realism argues for the necessity of ontology. The pursuit of ontology is the attempt to understand and say something about ‘the things themselves’ and not simply about our beliefs, experiences, or our current knowledge and understanding of those things. Critical Realism also argues against the implicit ontology of the empiricists and idealists of events and regularities, reducing reality to thought, language, belief, custom, or experience. Instead Critical Realism advocates a structural realist and causal powers approach to natural and social ontology, with a focus upon social relations and process of social transformation.

Important movements within Critical Realism include the morphogenetic approach developed by Margaret Archer; Critical Realist economics developed by Tony Lawson; as well as dialectical Critical Realism (embracing being, becoming and absence) and the philosophy of metaReality (emphasising priority of the non-dual) developed by Roy Bhaskar.

For over thirty years, Routledge has been closely associated with Critical Realism and, in particular, the work of Roy Bhaskar, publishing well over fifty works in, or informed by, Critical Realism (in series including Critical Realism: Interventions; Ontological Explorations; New Studies in Critical Realism and Education). These have all now been brought together under one series dedicated to Critical Realism.

The Centre for Critical Realism is the advisory editorial board for the series. If you would like to know more about the Centre for Critical Realism, or to submit a book proposal, please visit

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General