This new interdisciplinary textbook by Martin Hollis offers an exceptionally clear and concise introduction to the philosophy of social science. It unearths central philosophical problems underlying the standard ways of thinking about social institutions and social actions, leading the reader to reflect upon the nature of scientific method itself. Is the aim to explain the social world after the manner of the natural world, or to understand it from within? Writing in his characteristically clear and incisive prose, Martin Hollis reveals the crucial role to be played by philosophy in the study of the social sciences.
Preface; 1. Introduction: problems of structure and action; 2. Discovering truth: the rationalist way; 3. Positive science: the empiricist way; 4. Ants, spiders and bees: a third way?; 5. Systems and functions; 6. Games with rational agents; 7. Understanding social action; 8. Self and roles; 9. Explaining and understanding; 10. A value-neutral social science?; 11. Rationality and relativism; 12. Conclusion: two stories to tell; Bibliography; Index.