PHIL 154.001 – Philosophy of the Social Sciences

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Instructor: Michael Prinzing. This course meets MWF 9:20 – 10:10 a.m. via remote only instruction.

This class explores philosophical issues relevant to social scientific research. This course is intended to help students reflect on and develop considered views about the nature of social science, how it works and ought to work, and on the proper role of the social sciences in society. A secondary goal is to help students to improve their critical reasoning, reading, and writing skills. The course is intended both for students planning on majoring in philosophy as well as in various social sciences. It does not presume a background in either. Specifically, we will investigate such questions as:

  • What is science in the first place, and what makes a scientific discipline a social science?
  • How do social scientists define and study such abstract phenomena as intelligence, democracy, or love?
  • Do evaluative claims and assumptions necessarily pervade social scientific research?
  • If they do, does that pose a problem for the “objectivity” of these sciences?
  • Are the social sciences witnessing a “reproducibility crisis”?