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LAWS AND EXPLANATION IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES:
Defending a Science of Human Behavior

LAWS AND EXPLANATION IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES:<br> Defending a Science of Human Behavior

The first full-length defense of social scientific laws to appear in the last twenty years, this book upholds the prospect of the scientific explanation of human behavior against those who maintain that this approach is impossible, impractical, or irrelevant. By pursuing an analogy with the natural sciences, McIntyre shows that the barriers to social scientific laws are not generated by factors unique to social inquiry, but arise from a largely common set of problems that face any scientific endeavor. All of the most widely supported arguments against social scientific laws have failed largely due to adherence to a highly idealized conception of nomologicality (allegedly drawn from the natural sciences themselves) and the limited doctrine of "descriptivism." Basing his arguments upon a more realistic view of scientific theorizing that emphasizes the pivotal role of "redescription" in aiding the search for scientific laws, McIntyre is optimistic about attaining useful law-like explanations of human behavior.

 

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Westview Press (Paperback) December 1996, ISBN-13: 9780813336480

 

Praise


"The central thesis of this interesting and important book is that failure to discover laws in the social sciences is not because of the 'complexity' or 'openness' of the subject matter, [but] stems from a common lack of understanding among those whose views on the actual characteristics of existing and widely accepted laws in the natural sciences McIntyre criticizes."
   —Choice

"Certainly the best case for the possibility of discoverable laws in social science that has appeared in more than a generation. Interpretativists and eliminativists will ignore it at their intellectual peril, and those who seek to reconcile reasons and causes will find it indispensable. Exponents of all three of these approaches will find McIntyre an accessible but rigorous introduction to the subject for their students."
   —Alexander Rosenberg, University of Georgia

"Those who have dismissed the possibility of a nomological social science now must contend with Lee McIntyre's powerful argument to the contrary. No serious scholar of the human sciences can ignore this work."
   —Merrilee H. Salmon, University of Pittsburgh

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