1st Edition

The Idea of a Social Science and Its Relation to Philosophy

ISBN 9780415423588
Published October 30, 2007 by Routledge
168 Pages

USD $20.95

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Book Description

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'.

Table of Contents

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

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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.


'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