Guest post: Varieties of realism by Jamie Morgan

[Jamie Morgan accepted my invitation to contribute a guest post to Understanding Society on the topic of the varieties of realism in the philosophy of social science. Jamie is Professor of Economic Sociology at Leeds Beckett University. He co-edits the Real-World Economics Review with Edward Fullbrook. He has published widely in the fields of economics, …

Journal of Critical Realism CFP on Judgemental Rationality

Roy Bhaskar is best known for his ideas about social ontology. However, he also had a substantial interest in "the epistemology of social science" -- the means through which social scientists provide their theories with rational credibility. The Journal of Critical Realism is planning a special issue on the key concept that Bhaskar introduced in this area, …

Critical realism and ontological individualism

Most critical realists would probably think that their philosophy of social science is flatly opposed to ontological individualism. However, I think that this opposition is unwarranted. Let's begin by formulating a clear idea of ontological individualism. This is the view that social entities, powers, and conditions are all constituted by the actions, thoughts, and mental …

Realism about social entities

Critical realism depends on the key notion that sociologists are justified in construing their statements about social entities as real, objective features of the social world — “intransitive” objects, in Bhaskar’s somewhat idiosyncratic vocabulary. But does a realist ontology actually require this assumption? Or are there realist interpretations of sociological theory that do not “reify” …

Social consciousness and critical realism

Critical realism proposes an approach to the social world that pays particular attention to objective and material features of the social realm -- property relations, impersonal institutional arrangements, supra-individual social structures. Between structure and agent, CR seems most often to lean towards structures rather than consciously feeling and thinking agents. And so one might doubt …

Guest post by Dave Elder-Vass

[Dave Elder-Vass accepted my invitation to write a response to my discussion of moral realism.  (link). Elder-Vass is Reader in sociology at Loughborough University and author of Profit and Gift in the Digital Economy, The Causal Power of Social Structures: Emergence, Structure and Agency and The Reality of Social Construction, discussed here, here and here. Dave has emerged …

Moral progress and critical realism

Critical realists share a rejection of the fact-value distinction as a fundamental criterion of scientific rationality -- and rightly so (link). They believe that social research and theorizing involve value commitments all the way down. Further, they commonly believe that good social science should lead to improvement in the world and in our system of …

Time for a critical-realist epistemology

The critical realism network in North America is currently convened in Montreal in a three-day intensive workshop (link). In attendance are many of the sociologists and philosophers who have an active interest in critical realism, and the talks are of genuine interest. A session this morning on pragmatist threads of potential interest to critical realists, …

Guest post by Guus Duindam

Guus Duindam is a J.D./Ph.D. student in philosophy at the University of Michigan. His primary areas of interest are Ethics and Kant. Thanks, Guus, for providing this rigorous treatment of Bhaskar's philosophical argument for critical realism. Bhaskar contra Kant: Why Critical Realism is not Transcendental Realism Let me start by thanking Dan Little for inviting …

Explanation and critical realism

  To explain something is to provide a true account of the causes and circumstances that brought it about. There is of course more to say on the subject, but this is the essential part of the story. And this normative account of explanation should work as well for investigations created within the framework of critical realism …

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