Karl Popper and the Social Sciences

By William A. Gorton

Subjects: Science And Society
Series: SUNY series in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Paperback : 9780791466629, 157 pages, January 2006
Hardcover : 9780791466612, 157 pages, January 2006

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Table of contents

Acknowledgments
Abbreviations
Introduction

1. Popperian Situational Analysis

 

Building Models
Against Psychologism and Conspiracy Theories
Methodological Collectivism
Summary

 

2. Metaphysics, Realism, and Situational Analysis

 

The Vienna Circle’s Positivism
Verificationism, Empiricism, and Metaphysics
Popper’s Metaphysical and Scientific Realism
Realism, World 3, and Social Inquiry
Summary

 

3. Social Laws, the Unity of Scientific Method, and Situational Analysis

 

Causation, Covering Laws, and Realism
The Unity of Scientific Method
Falsification and Situational Analysis
Summary

 

4. Situational Analysis and Economic Theory

 

Rationality and Economic Theory
Situational Analysis and Economic Theory
Explaining Voter Turnout: Rational Choice versus Situational Analysis
Untangling Complex Patterns of Interaction
Summary

 

5. Popper’s Debt to Marx

 

Popper’s Critique of Marx
Popper’s Debt to Marx
Popper and the Analytical Marxists
Summary

 

6. The Shortcomings of Situational Analysis

 

The Limited Range of Situational Analysis
Irrationality and Situational Analysis
Elster’s Model of Revolutions
Summary

 

Conclusion
Notes
References
Index

The first systematic treatment of Karl Popper’s contribution to the philosophy of the social sciences.

Description

This is the first book-length exploration of Karl Popper's often-neglected contributions to the philosophy of social science. William A. Gorton situates Popper's ideas on social inquiry within the broader framework of his thought, including his philosophy of natural science, his ontological theories, and his political thought. Gorton places special attention on Popper's theory of situational analysis and how it aims to heighten our understanding of the social world by untangling the complex web of human interaction that produces unintended—and often unwanted—social phenomena. Situational analysis, Gorton contends, involves a significant departure from the method of the natural sciences, despite Popper's plea for the unity of scientific method. Gorton also addresses some common misconceptions concerning Popper's stance toward economics and Marxism, making the provocative claim that contemporary analytical Marxism provides the best current example of Popperian social science put into practice.

William A. Gorton is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Alma College, Michigan.