Philosophy of the Social Sciences 4000

1. What is meant by suggesting that scientific knowledge production is socially and historically situated? Discuss this with reference to empiricism as an epistemological project for the natural sciences.

2. Positivism can be explained as an attempt to utilise a natural science methodology to create objective knowledge about the social world, and in doing so, improve human society. Discuss the merits and limits of ‘progress as a key trope in positivism

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3. Social Constructionism can be explained as an anti-reification device. What does this mean and what is its value to sociological research?

4. Deconstruction challenges the orthodoxy of dominant beliefs and ideologies in the production of facts about the world. Discuss the statement with reference to Donna Haraways writing on primatology.

5. What does it mean to refer to social scientific research as ‘critical?

6. If Foucault said he wrote for ‘users not readers to what uses has his approach been most successfully put?

7. To what extent are current controversies animating social science reflective of Thomas Kuhn and/or Robert Mertons theories concerning the reproduction of scientific communities?

8. Given the mainstreaming of ‘reflexivity, are there any contemporary sociologists who would claim a value-freedom for their work?

9. Why is Bruno Latour critical of social constructionism?

10. Critically assess the claim made by feminist standpoint theorists that women have a privileged epistemic insight.

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