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Instructor: Devin Lane. This course meets TR 8:00 – 9:15 a.m. in CW 105.

This is a course on the philosophy of social science. We will address a number of questions pertaining to the philosophical foundations of the social sciences, including but not limited to:

  • What are the aims of the social sciences? Do they aim to explainhuman action and social activity? Or do they aim to predict human action and social activity? Or both?
  • What methodologies do the social sciences employ? What are the limitations of those methodologies?
  • What is the relationship between natural and social science?
  • What roles do values play in social scientific research? Are the social sciences ‘objective?’
  • What is the relevance of the social sciences to social and political change and progress?

While we will primarily read philosophical work, we will also engage with ideas from psychology, economics, sociology, and history. The hope is that, by the end of the course, we will have a better sense of how social scientific research is conducted as well as a clearer view of social science’s importance for both understanding and engaging with our social world.