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The Disorder of Political Inquiry

The Disorder of Political Inquiry

by Keith Topper
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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674016781
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 06/30/2005
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Keith Topper is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and Political Science at Northwestern University.

Table of Contents


Introduction: The Social Science Wars

Social Science Wars I

Social Science Wars II

Debating the Foundations of Political Science

Sciences of Uncertainty

I: Science Turned Upside Down

Philosophy, Foundationalism, and Linguistic Pragmatism

Rorty's View of Natural Science


II: In Defense of Disunity

Pragmatic Naturalism and the Social Sciences

Hermeneutics Revisited


III: The Politics of Redescription

Redescription Applied

Contingency, Self-Creation, and Change

Redescription and Politics


IV: Reclaiming the Language of Emancipation

Roy Bhaskar's Critical Realism

Critical Realism as a Philosophy for the Sciences

Critical Naturalism, and the Stakes of Social Inquiry

Ontology, Causation, and Social Criticism, and Social Criticism


V: Sciences that Disturb

Pierre Bourdieu's 'Fieldwork in Philosophy'

From the Practice of Theory to the Theory of Practice

Ordinary Violences


Conclusion: Pluralism, Power, Perestroika, and Political Inquiry

Perestroika and Methodological Pluralism

Hegemonic Political Science and Methodological Monism

The Contest of Methodological Disunity

Revitalizing Political Inquiry



What People are Saying About This

This is a much-needed book that negotiates its way with great intelligence through a variety of difficult issues in the philosophy of the social sciences.

Thomas A. McCarthy

This book addresses the persisting "crisis" in political and social science and charts a way out of it. In the context of the latest round of debates about method, it revisits such abiding general questions as the unity or disunity between the natural and social sciences; the peculiar character of social scientific inquiry; the relationship between social science and political practice; and the entanglement of method and power. Topper negotiates his way through this thicket of issues with intelligence and clarity, and in doing so he provides us with many valuable insights into the contemporary situation of political inquiry.
Thomas A. McCarthy, Northwestern University

Stephen White

This is a much-needed book that negotiates its way with great intelligence through a variety of difficult issues in the philosophy of the social sciences.
Stephen White, The University of Virginia

Charles Taylor

This thoughtful and well-informed book casts a great deal of light on the "social science wars": an often fierce struggle over methods and techniques which also reflects profound differences in philosophy among social scientists. Topper shows how close argument and imaginative sympathy can carry the debate forward. This is a lucid and engaging book, full of important insights about the ways in which we try to study society.
Charles Taylor, author of Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity

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