PHIL 210
Philosophy of Social Sciences Fall 2009
Division II Writing Skills
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Is it possible to have scientific knowledge of human thought, feelings, behavior, social life and history? If so, is that knowledge importantly different in kind or in rigor from the knowledge we have of natural phenomena? Do social sciences legitimately employ different methodology than natural sciences? If so, what is that methodology, is there a single one, and what is the cognitive goal it serves? If not, could social sciences improve their scientific credibility by emulating the methodology of natural sciences? To answer these questions, we will discuss some of the following issues in the philosophy of social sciences: nature of `social facts’ and social reality; holism vs. reductionism; teleological, functional and structural explanations; theory formation, evidence, and the role of values in social science; the relationship between knowers and the known; and some issues concerning agency, rationality, intentionality and understanding. The readings will include Mill, Dilthey, Durkhem, Weber, Hempel, Rudner, Nagel, Popper, Winch, Taylor, Geertz, Rosenberg, MacIntyre, Hacking, Longino, Nelson, Wylie, and other contemporary philosophers of social sciences.
The Class: Format: lecture/discussion
Limit: 19
Expected: 10-15
Class#: 1024
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: class participation, 8 short weekly response papers (1-2 page) three longer (5 page) papers
Prerequisites: Philosophy 101 or 102 or 103; or instructor consent; Philosophy 209 is highly recommended
Enrollment Preferences: Philosophy majors, students who have taken Philosophy 209, and students who demonstrate serious interest in the course
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills

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