This book explores a vital but neglected element in the philosophy of social science – the complex nature of the social world. By a systematic philosophical engagement, it conceives the social world in terms of three basic concerns: epistemic, methodological and ethical. It examines how we cognize, study and ethically interact with the social world. As such, it demonstrates that a discussion of ethics is epistemically indispensable to the making of the social world.
The book presents a new interpretation of philosophy of social science and addresses a series of related topics, including the role of the human subject in the context of scientific knowledge, objectivity, historicity, meaning and nature of social reality, social and literary theory, scientific methodology and fact/value dichotomy, human and collective agency and the limits to relativism. Examining each in turn, it argues that the social world is constructed through human actions and becomes significant because we ascribe meaning to it. This is organized around discussions on the meaning, agency and the making of a social world. The book will be useful to scholars and researchers of philosophy of social science, political philosophy and sociology.
Preface. Acknowledgments. Introduction: A Three-Layered Approach to Social Science Part I. Our Epistemic Engagement with the World 1. Reconstruction of the Scientific View of the World and the Revival of Human Subject 2. Historicity: A Foundation for Scientific Knowledge and Philosophical Understanding 3. Historicity as the Process of Understanding Science: A Two-Level Reflection Part II. Social Science in Its Methodological Engagement 4. Meaning, Human Action and the Nature of Social Explanation 5. Meaning-Embedded Nature of Social Reality: The Two Contrastive Approaches 6. Text: The Common Paradigm for Social and Literary Theory 7. Scientific Methodology and the Overcoming of Fact/Value Dichotomy 8. Marx on Fact/Value Dichotomy and the Idea of a Unified Science 9. Objectivity or Solidarity? The Limits of Relativism in Social Science Part III. Social Science in Its Ethical Engagement 10. Phronēsis and the Ethical Basis of Social Science 11. On the Primitive Nature of Human Agency 12. How does Human Agency Function? A Normative Conceptualization 13. Change, Development and a Theory of Social Science