Skip to main content

Metatheory in Social Science

Pluralisms and Subjectivities

What is the nature of the social sciences? What kinds of knowledge can they—and should they—hope to create? Are objective viewpoints possible and can universal laws be discovered? Questions like these have been asked with increasing urgency in recent years, as some philosophers and researchers have perceived a "crisis" in the social sciences. Metatheory in Social Science offers many provocative arguments and analyses of basic conceptual frameworks for the study of human behavior. These are offered primarily by practicing researchers and are related to problems in disciplines as diverse as sociology, psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, and philosophy of science.

While various points of view are expressed in these nineteen essays, they have in common several themes, including the comparison of social and natural science, the role of knowledge in meeting the demands of society and its pressing problems, and the nature and role of subjectivity in science. Some authors hold that subjectivity cannot be studied scientifically; others argue that it can and must be if progress in knowledge is to be made. The essays demonstrate the philosophical pluralism they discuss and give a wide range of alternative positions on the future of the social and behavioral sciences in a postpositivist intellectual world.

400 pages | 3 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 1986

Philosophy: Philosophy of Society

Political Science: Political and Social Theory

Psychology: Social Psychology

Sociology: Theory and Sociology of Knowledge

Table of Contents

Conference Participants
Introduction: Uneasy Social Science
Richard A. Shweder and Donald W. Fiske
1. Three Scientific World Views and the Covering Law Model
Roy D’Andrade
2. Generalization and the Social Psychology of "Other Worlds"
Philip E. Converse
3. Specificity of Method and Knowledge in Social Science
Donald W. Fiske
4. Social Inquiry by and for Earthlings
Lee J. Cronbach
5. Science’s Social System of Validity-Enhancing Collective Belief Change and the Problems of the Social Sciences
Donald T. Campbell
6. Correspondence versus Autonomy in the Language of Understanding Human Action
Kenneth J. Gergen
7. Divergent Rationalities
Richard A. Shweder
8. Explanation in the Social Sciences and in Life Situations
Paul F. Secord
9. Some Uses and Misuses of the Social Sciences in Medicine
Arthur Kleinman
10. Social Measurement as the Creation of Expert Systems
Aaron V. Cicourel
11. The Forms and Functions of Social Knowledge
Donald N. Levine
12. Non-Linear Behavior
Frank M. Richter
13. Heuristics and the Study of Human Behavior
William C. Wimsatt
14. What Social Scientists Don’t Understand
Paul E. Meehl
15. Philosophy of Science and the Potentials for Knowledge in the Social Sciences
Alexander Rosenberg
16. Similarity and Collaboration within the Sciences
Philip S. Holzman
17. Two Extremes on the Social Science Commitment Continuum
Barbara Frankel
18. Pluralisms and Subjectivities
Donald W. Fiske and Richard A. Shweder
Author Index
Subject Index

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press