"Methodological Opportunism" at Alpha Psy

There's a really interesting post by Alberto over at Alpha Psy titled "Methodological Materialism" that I thought I'd point you to, in case you hadn't read it already. Here's an excerpt:

As I see things, there is no deeper epistemological concern in recognizing that methods from natural sciences are increasingly being applied to social sciences than in recognizing that (say) it is snowing more than we had forecasted.

The mistake that both Descombes and Sperber make in celebrating a false major philosophical event is their implicit commitment to the doctrine of "methodological essentialism": the idea that a field of human knowledge is defined by its proprietary methods. If this doctrine is true, then it follows that applications of the methods of natural sciences to social sciences is a big event, because, since in extant social sciences should be defined by their methods, the application of new, alien ones is not normal and should be conceived of as a conceptual confusion (Descombes' position). Unless, clearly, one admits that extant social sciences have always been a wreck to begin with (Sperber's position).

Tags

More like this

Courtesy of Mixing Memory comes the announcement of a conference at AlphaPsy on methodology and the social sciences, which raises an interesting thought. Is the use of scientific methodology and the naturalising of the social sciences a threat to those disciplines? This is an old debate, though. It…
Chimpanzees have culture (or not) depending on your definition.Image: Irish Wildcat / Creative Commons Author's Note: The following is an expansion on my reply to anthropologist Dan Sperber on the PLoS ONE article "Prestige Affects Cultural Learning in Chimpanzees." Culture is like art or…
I now turn to the question of explananda - what is it that explanations of religion are adduced to explain? Similarly to the general classification I gave before, there are several things that seem to need explaining. 1. The sociological explanandum: the existence of organised religion…
I didn't really have time to blog anything today, primarily because I was preparing a talk on the Cambrian explosion that I am giving tonight. The weekend will likely be quiet as well, as I need to finish preparations for the new semester which starts on Tuesday. So, for those of you who are…