Interpretivism and Critical Theory

Authored by: Kenneth Baynes

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Social Science

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138825758
eBook ISBN: 9781315410098
Adobe ISBN: 9781315410081


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Interpretive social science (or interpretivism) and critical theory, despite important differences, converge on the view that the human or social sciences are “autonomous” and cannot be unified with or subsumed under the natural sciences. This is because the social sciences, as part of their object-domain, must take into consideration the meanings or “self-interpretations” of the social actors themselves in a way that is not true for the natural sciences. Arguments for the autonomy of the social sciences on these grounds extend back to debates in the late 19th century but they continue to surface in some of the most recent debates about the aims of social inquiry (Roth 2003).

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