Philosophy & Economics

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Veranstaltungstitel Philosophy of the Social Sciences
Kennzeichen 50117
Veranstaltungsart Vorlesung & Seminar
Fachgruppe Philosophie
Semester Winter 2022
Dozent(en) Patricia Rich
Empfehlung(en) Studiensemester 1. Semester (P&E Master)
Bereich(e) A3: Philosophy of the Social Sciences


Although the social sciences are implicitly categorized as “sciences,” they usually bear little resemblance to the natural sciences, and often face the worrying charge of being unscientific. Although united in their quest to understand humans, the various social science disciplines approach this task in very different ways. They not only focus on different particular questions, but employ starkly different methods, so that research can resemble story-telling or mathematics and everything in between. These differences do not appear to simply reflect different predilections, as researchers from the individual disciplines also accuse one another of being unscientific. For example, an anthropologist or psychologist might argue that economic models lack empirical content or abstract away from too much of importance, while an economist might complain that relatively non-quantitative methods are not rigorous or objective enough to produce robust scientific knowledge. One must acknowledge that human beings are fiendishly complex and hence difficult to study, and that several of the social sciences have not existed for very long in their modern forms. But this does not mean that we need not adjudicate the debates about and between them; the role of philosophy is to do just this. This course therefore examines how the social sciences can—and cannot—succeed, how they can expect to produce more—or less—valuable, scientific knowledge.

This course is a combination of lecture and seminar. So that we can see how the philosophical issues play out in everyday scientific practice, we will periodically have guest discussions with social scientists.

You will write two papers, and take a written exam with two short-answer questions.

You can find the course webpage at:

All important information will be posted there.


None: compulsory course for incoming MA students

Erfordernisse zum Punkteerwerb

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