Selected Topics in Comparative Politics: Philosophy of Social Science

Philosophy of Social Science
Level: 
Semester: 
Instructor(s): 
Units: 
4
Section: 
2
Number: 
210
CCN: 
22539
Times: 
W 10:00-12:00
Location: 
202 Barrows
Course Description: 

This course offers an introduction to the philosophical underpinnings of contemporary political (and more generally social) science. Our goal is to reflect on the epistemological and ontological biases inherent in methodological approaches such as rational choice, interpretivism, behavioralism, institutionalism, and post-modernism. For example, what counts as knowledge in each approach, and how is such knowledge ascertained? To what extent does each consider social reality "out there" to be discovered rather than "in here" (our heads)-- constructed by us? Are there universal criteria by which one can compare the usefulness or validity of different approaches? Should there be? We will begin by reviewing some of the dualisms that currently preoccupy Western philosophy: naturalism/anti-naturalism, realism/constructivism, and objectivity/relativism. We then examine our methodological approaches in light of these conceptions of knowledge.

Group visibility: 
Public - accessible to all site users