1st Edition

Evidential Pluralism in the Social Sciences

By Yafeng Shan, Jon Williamson Copyright 2023
    190 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This volume contends that Evidential Pluralism—an account of the epistemology of causation, which maintains that in order to establish a causal claim one needs to establish the existence of a correlation and the existence of a mechanism—can be fruitfully applied to the social sciences. Through case studies in sociology, economics, political science and law, it advances new philosophical foundations for causal enquiry in the social sciences. The book provides an account of how to establish and evaluate causal claims and it offers a new way of thinking about evidence-based policy, basic social science research and mixed methods research. As such, it will appeal to scholars with interests in social science research and methodology, the philosophy of science and evidence-based policy.

    The Open Access version of this book, available at http://www.taylorfrancis.com, has been made available under a Creative Commons [Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND)] 4.0 license.

    I Philosophical Framework

    1 Evidential Pluralism

    §1. What is Evidential Pluralism?

    §2. Why is Evidential Pluralism Plausible?

    §3. Evidential Pluralism and EBM+

    §4. Controversies and Clarifications

    §5. Evidential Pluralism and Epistemic Causality

    §6. Applying Evidential Pluralism to the Social Sciences

    2 Historical Roots

    §7. Bernard

    §8. Weldon

    §9. Goldthorpe

    §10. How does Evidential Pluralism differ?

    II Consequences and Concerns

    3 Evidence-Based Policy: EBP+

    §11. EBM and EBP

    §12. EBP+ Evaluation Procedures

    §13. EBP+ in Comparison to Existing Approaches

    4 Mixed Methods Research

    §14. The Context of the Origins of Mixed Methods Research

    §15. Mixed Methods Research and its Philosophical Foundations

    §16. A Critical Analysis

    §17. Evidential Pluralism and Mixed Methods Research

    5 Objections and Responses

    §18. Objection 1: The Problem of Sufficiency

    §19. Objection 2: The Problem of Necessity

    §20. Objection 3: The Problem of Causal Monism

    §21. Objection 4: The Problem of Defining Mechanisms

    III Particular Social Sciences

    6 Sociology

    §22. Causal Enquiry in Sociology

    §23. Sociologists’ Methodological Reflections on Causal Enquiry

    7 Economics

    §24. Causal Enquiry in Economics

    §25. Benefits of Evidential Pluralism in Economics

    §26. Mechanisms and Theory in Economics

    §27. Causal and Methodological Pluralism in Economics

    8 Political Science

    §28. The Need for Methodological Diversity in Political Science

    §29. Case Study: Resource Wealth and Violence in Rebellions

    §30. Understanding Causal Enquiry in Political Science

    9 Law

    §31. The Bifurcation Approach to Causation in the Law

    §32. The Bifurcation Approach and Evidential Pluralism

    §33. Liability-Tracing Mechanisms

    §34. Against Causal Autonomy in the Law

    10 The Scope of Evidential Pluralism in the Social Sciences

    §35. Across the social sciences

    §36. Where we stand



    Yafeng Shan is Assistant Professor of Philosophy of Science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He is the author of Doing Integrated History and Philosophy of Science: A Case Study of the Origin of Genetics and the editor of New Philosophical Perspectives on Scientific Progress.

    Jon Williamson is Professor of Reasoning, Inference, and Scientific Method at the University of Kent, UK. His books include Evaluating Evidence of Mechanisms in Medicine, Lectures on Inductive Logic, Probabilistic Logics and Probabilistic Networks, In Defence of Objective Bayesianism and Bayesian Nets and Causality.