"Finding Philosophy in Social Science" by Mario Bunge

Finding Philosophy in Social Science Mario Bunge

Publication date:
28 Aug 1996
Yale University Press
448 pages: 235 x 156mm

Written by an eminent and original thinker in the philosophy of science, this book takes a fresh, unorthodox look at the key philosophical concepts and assumptions of the social sciences. Mario Bunge contends that social scientists (anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, economists, and historians) ought not to leave philosophy to philosophers who have little expertise in or knowledge of the social sciences. Bunge urges social scientists to engage in serious philosophizing and philosophers to participate in social research. The two fields are interrelated, he says, and important advances in each can supply tools for solving problems in the other.

Bunge analyzes such concepts as fact, cause, and value that the fields of philosophy and social science share. He discusses assumptions and misassumptions involved in such current approaches as idealism, materialism, and subjectivism, and finds that none of the best-known philosophies helps to advance or even understand social science. In a highly critical appraisal of rational choice theories, Bunge insists that these models provide no solid substantive theory of society, nor do they help guide rational action. He offers ten criteria by which to evaluate philosophies of social science and proposes novel solutions to social science's methodological and philosophical problems. He argues forcefully that a particular union of rationalism, realism, and systemism is the logical and viable philosophical stance for social science practitioners.

"This book is required reading to understand relations between philosophy and the social sciences."?Bruce G. Trigger, American Journal of Archaeology

"This work should play a major role in guiding the course of the social sciences toward a much needed strengthening of its foundations, tasks, and responsibilities."?B. B. Price, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"A philosophical tour de force anatomizing social science for our time. Lucid, wide-ranging, tough-minded, provocative, and deeply knowing, it is a fine successor to Ernest Nagel's treatise of generations ago."?Robert K. Merton, Columbia University

"Along with the sharpness and clarity of Bunge's thought, the detailed name and subject indexes make this an excellent reference work for philosophers of science and for students and scholars in the social sciences who must deal with the philosophical minefields that litter their chosen disciplines."?Choice

"[A] brilliantly argued book, easily the most impressive work of its kind to appear in many years. . . . [It] should be required reading for all advanced graduate students in the social sciences and philosophy."?Martin F. Farrell, Perspectives on Political Science

?A handsome ?all-things-Walden? edition, copiously annotated by Jeffrey S. Cramer, curator of collections at the Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods.??Michael Kenney, Boston Sunday Globe