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Philosophy of Science for the Social Sciences

7.5 credits

Course period: 5 November, 2018 to 18 January, 2019

The course aims at providing a critical introduction to a bouquet of classical and contemporary texts as well as debates in the philosophy of science for the social sciences. The course begins with a series of lectures that discuss the history of the field, as well as the four main contemporary positions.

Two lectures discourse on the conceptual Enlightenment origins of the social sciences, the breakthrough with theorists as Comte, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim, and the 20th century theory of science with i.a. positivism, Popper and Kuhn. Thereafter four lectures deal with contemporary positivism, constructivism broadly understood, critical social science, and realism. Thereafter, a series of eight seminars are concerned with specific themes and debates within the philosophy of the social sciences.

Examples of themes are the fact-value distinction, agency, or the philosophy of social science at work in research design. At each seminar a group of students makes an oral presentation on the theme, and all students prepare a short text on “how this problem is relevant in my dissertation project?"

The language of instruction will be English or Swedish, depending on the student group.

Learning outcomes

  • demonstrate knowledge about and understanding of the philosophy of the social sciences as an intellectual tradition and activity,
  • critically examine different contributions within the philosophy of the social sciences and their impact on various social science traditions,
  • discuss key concepts within the field of the philosophy of the social sciences and their relevance for the conduct of social scientific inquiry and research,
  • examine analytical strengths and shortcomings of various schools within the tradition of the philosophy of the social sciences,
  • consider how reasearch questions and problems identified in their disseration work are related to various schools within the field of the philosophy of the social sciences.
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