Getting past Hume in the philosophy of social science

Ruth Groff

in Causality in the Sciences

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199574131
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728921 | DOI:
Getting past Hume in the philosophy of social science

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A realist, powers‐based metaphysics is very much on the table in contemporary metaphysics, and is beginning to take hold in philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. On this picture, causality is (roughly) a matter of the powers that things have to effect change(s) in other things. The realist view is at odds with every version of Humeanism, according to all of which causation is not, in the end, about the exercise of powers, but rather, in one way or another, about regular sequences. The chapter has two parts. In the first part the chapter considers how it is that analytic philosophers of social science have been able thus far to side‐step the critique of Humeanism. In the second part, the chapter considers how analytic philosophy of social science might look different, were Humeanism no longer to be its tacit metaphysics. Such is the influence of custom, that, where it is strongest, it not only covers our natural ignorance, but even conceals itself, and seems not to take place, merely because it is found in the highest degree.–Hume

Keywords: Humeanism; powers; causality; mechanisms; emergence; methodological individualism; social science; realism; regularity; epistemic fallacy; meta-theory

Chapter.  10346 words. 

Subjects: Logic

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