The Flight from Reality in the Human Sciences by Ian Shapiro

By Ian Shapiro

During this fascinating but troubling ebook, Ian Shapiro deals a searing indictment of many influential practices within the social sciences and arts this present day. probably most sensible recognized for his critique of rational selection concept, Shapiro expands his purview the following. In self-discipline after self-discipline, he argues, students have fallen prey to inward-looking myopia that effects from--and perpetuates--a flight from fact. within the method-driven educational tradition we inhabit, argues Shapiro, researchers too frequently make exhibit and refinement in their concepts the imperative scholarly job. the result's that they lose sight of the items in their learn. puppy theories and methodological blinders lead unwelcome evidence to be neglected, occasionally now not even perceived. The pursuits of Shapiro's critique contain the legislation and economics circulation, overzealous formal and statistical modeling, numerous reductive theories of human habit, faulty conceptual research in political thought, and the Cambridge tuition of highbrow historical past. in its place to all of those, Shapiro makes a compelling case for problem-driven social examine, rooted in a realist philosophy of technological know-how and an antireductionist view of social clarification. within the lucid--if biting--prose for which Shapiro is popular, he explains why this calls for better severe recognition to how difficulties are certain than is generally undertaken. He illustrates what's at stake for the examine of strength, democracy, legislation, and beliefs, in addition to in normative debates over rights, justice, freedom, advantage, and neighborhood. Shapiro solutions many critics of his perspectives alongside the best way, securing his place as one of many particular social and political theorists of our time.

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The battered wife may be the victim of a psychological syndrome that causes her to interpret abuse as a sign 26 Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), pp. 10–51. ” 27 See Saul Kripke, Naming and Necessity (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1982), and Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language (Cambridge, Ma: Harvard University Press, 1984). T H E D I F F E R E N C E T H AT R E A L I S M M A K E S 33 of her husband’s affection; in acting on this belief, she may be inadvertently reproducing an exploitative relationship.

Austin described as the performative dimensions of language. 24 The ordinary language philosophers who followed Wittgenstein and Austin argued that language constitutes social reality via such performative devices. 25 This move had elective affinities with Kuhn’s subsequent argument that, even in the hard sciences, observation is overdetermined by theory; that what counts as evidence for a scientist is an artifact of the system of rules and expectations governed by the prevailing paradigms or beliefs rather than by anything external to that 23 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (Oxford: Blackwell, 1953), sec.

29. 34 C H A P T E R O N E self-understandings potentially involves bias. This is not to say that every act of apparent consent really masks some underlying functionalism or determinism (to go that route would be to lurch back toward logicism). It is to say that we cannot assume, before inquiry into particular cases begins, that it does not. ”31 How serious these flaws are depends on the explanatory status that is claimed for an interpretive account of an action. If, for example, elucidations of individual and collective meanings are regarded as simply one component of a fuller explanation of an action, no objection to them as necessarily biased may be in order.

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