Sunday, February 14, 2021

Stance Voluntarism Bibliography

The following is my best attempt at a comprehensive bibliography of the literature on "stance voluntarism" in the philosophy of science. Please let me know of anything I've missed!

Baumann, Peter. 2011. "Empiricism, stances, and the problem of voluntarism."  Synthese 178 (1):27-36. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9519-7.

Bitbol, Michel. 2007. "Materialism, stances, and open-mindedness." In Images of Empiricism: Essays on Science and Stances, with a Reply From Bas C. Van Fraassen, edited by Bradley John Monton. Oxford University Press.

Boucher, Sandy. 2018. "Stances and Epistemology: Values, Pragmatics, and Rationality."  Metaphilosophy 49 (4):521-547. doi:

Boucher, Sandy C. 2015. "Functionalism and structuralism as philosophical stances: van Fraassen meets the philosophy of biology."  Biology and Philosophy 30 (3):383-403.

Boucher, Sandy C. 2018. "What is the Relation between a Philosophical Stance and Its Associated Beliefs?"  Dialectica 72 (4):509-524. doi:

Bryant, Amanda. forthcoming. "Book Symposium: Anjan Chakravartty’s Scientific Ontology A Thousand Flowers on the Road to Epistemic Anarchy: Comments on Chakravartty’s Scientific Ontology."  Dialogue.

Bueno, Otávio. 2015. "Realism and Anti-Realism about Science: A Pyrrhonian Stance."  International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 5 (2):145-167. doi:

Chakravartty, Anjan. 2004. "Stance relativism: empiricism versus metaphysics: The Empirical Stance Bas C. Van Fraassen; Yale University Press, London & New Haven, 2002, pp. xix+282, Price £22.50 hardback, ISBN 0300088744."  Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 35 (1):173-184. doi:

Chakravatty, Anjan. 2007. "Six degrees of speculation : metaphysics in empirical contexts." In Images of Empiricism: Essays on Science and Stances, with a Reply From Bas C. Van Fraassen, edited by Bradley John Monton, 183-208. Oxford University Press.

Chakravartty, Anjan. 2011. "A puzzle about voluntarism about rational epistemic stances."  Synthese 178 (1):37-48. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9516-x.

Chakravartty, Anjan. 2015. "Suspension of Belief and Epistemologies of Science."  International Journal for the Study of Skepticism 5 (2):168-192. doi:

Chakravartty, Anjan. 2017. Scientific ontology : integrating naturalized metaphysics and voluntarist epistemology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Chakravartty, Anjan. 2018. "Feelings in Guts and Bones: Reply to Lewis, Magnus, and Strevens."  Metascience 27 (3):379-387. doi: 10.1007/s11016-018-0341-z.

Chakravartty, Anjan. 2018. "Realism, Antirealism, Epistemic Stances, and Voluntarism." In The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism, edited by Juha Saatsi, 225-236. Routledge.

Cruse, Pierre. 2007. "Van Fraassen on the nature of empiricism."  Metaphilosophy 38 (4):489-508. doi:

Dicken, Paul. 2009. "Constructive Empiricism and the Vices of Voluntarism."  International Journal of Philosophical Studies 17 (2):189-201. doi: 10.1080/09672550902794421.

Donhauser, Justin, and Jamie Shaw. 2019. "Knowledge transfer in theoretical ecology: Implications for incommensurability, voluntarism, and pluralism."  Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 77:11-20. doi:

Elder, Jamee. 2019. "Defending stance voluntarism."  Philosophical Studies 176 (11):3019-3039. doi: 10.1007/s11098-018-1161-0.

Forbes, Curtis. 2017. "A pragmatic, existentialist approach to the scientific realism debate."  Synthese 194 (9):3327-3346. doi: 10.1007/s11229-016-1015-2.

Jauernig, Anja. 2007. "Must empiricism be a stance, and could it be one? how to be an empiricist and a philosopher at the same time." In Images of Empiricism: Essays on Science and Stances, with a Reply From Bas C. Van Fraassen, edited by Bradley John Monton, 271-318. Oxford University Press.

Jones, Ward E. 2011. "Being moved by a way the world is not."  Synthese 178 (1):131-141. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9522-z.

Kusch, Martin. 2020. "Stances, Voluntarism, Relativism." In Idealism, Relativism, and Realism: New Essays on Objectivity Beyond the Analytic-Continental Divide, edited by Dominik Finkelde and Paul M. Livingston, 131-154. De Gruyter.

Kvanvig, Jonathan L. 1994. "A critique of van Fraassen's voluntaristic epistemology."  Synthese 98 (2):325-348. doi: 10.1007/BF01063946.

Ladyman, James. 2004. "Discussion: Empiricism versus Metaphysics." Review of The Empirical Stance, Bas C. van Fraassen. Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition 121 (2):133-145.

Ladyman, James. 2011. "The scientistic stance: the empirical and materialist stances reconciled."  Synthese 178 (1):87-98. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9513-0.

Lewis, Peter J. 2018. "Inferring particles."  Metascience 27 (3):357-364. doi: 10.1007/s11016-018-0340-0.

Lipton, Peter. 2004. "Discussion: Epistemic Options." Review of The Empirical Stance, Bas C. van Fraassen. Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition 121 (2):147-158.

Lowe, E. J. 2011. "The rationality of metaphysics."  Synthese 178 (1):99-109. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9514-z.

Magnus, P. D. 2018. "Cautious realism and middle range ontology."  Metascience 27 (3):365-370. doi: 10.1007/s11016-018-0342-y.

Massimi, Michela. 2011. "From data to phenomena: a Kantian stance."  Synthese 182 (1):101-116.

McMullin, Ernan. 2007. "Taking an empirical stance." In Images of Empiricism: Essays on Science and Stances, with a Reply From Bas C. Van Fraassen, edited by Bradley John Monton. Oxford University Press.

Monton, Bradley John, ed. 2007. Images of empiricism : essays on science and stances, with a reply from Bas C. van Fraassen, Mind Association occasional series. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.

Okruhlik, Kathleen. 2014. "Bas van Fraassen's Philosophy of Science and His Epistemic Voluntarism."  Philosophy Compass 9 (9):653-661. doi:

Psillos, Stathis. 2003. "Putting a Bridle on Irrationality: An Appraisal of Van Fraassen’s New Epistemology." In Images of Empiricism: Essays on Science and Stances, with a Reply From Bas C. Van Fraassen, edited by Bradley John Monton, 288-319. Oxford University Press.

Ratcliffe, Matthew. 2011. "Stance, feeling and phenomenology."  Synthese 178 (1):121-130. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9525-9.

Richardson, Alan. 2011. "But what then am I, this inexhaustible, unfathomable historical self? Or, upon what ground may one commit empiricism?"  Synthese 178 (1):143-154. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9523-y.

Rowbottom, Darrell Patrick. 2005. "The Empirical Stance vs. The Critical Attitude."  South African Journal of Philosophy 24 (3):200-223. doi: 10.4314/sajpem.v24i3.31427.

Rowbottom, Darrell P. 2011. "Stances and paradigms: a reflection."  Synthese 178 (1):111-119. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9524-x.

Rowbottom, Darrell P., and Otávio Bueno. 2011. "Stance and rationality: a perspective."  Synthese 178 (1):1-5. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9526-8.

Rowbottom, Darrell P., and Otávio Bueno. 2011. "How to change it: modes of engagement, rationality, and stance voluntarism."  Synthese 178 (1):7-17. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9521-0.

Steup, Matthias. 2011. "Empiricism, metaphysics, and voluntarism."  Synthese 178 (1):19-26. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9518-8.

Strevens, Michael. 2018. "Explanation and reality: comment on Chakravartty."  Metascience 27 (3):371-378. doi: 10.1007/s11016-018-0343-x.

Surovell, Jonathan Reid. 2019. "Stance empiricism and epistemic reason."  Synthese 196 (2):709-733. doi: 10.1007/s11229-017-1539-0.

Teller, Paul. 2004. "Discussion: What Is a Stance?" Review of The Empirical Stance, Bas C. van Fraassen. Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition 121 (2):159-170.

Teller, Paul. 2011. "Learning to live with voluntarism."  Synthese 178 (1):49-66. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9517-9.

van Fraassen, Bas C. 2002. The empirical stance. New Haven: Yale University Press.

van Fraassen, Bas C. 2004. "Precis of "The Empirical Stance"."  Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition 121 (2):127-132.

van Fraassen, Bas C. 2004. "Replies to Discussion on "The Empirical Stance"." Review of The Empirical Stance, Bas C. van Fraassen. Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition 121 (2):171-192.

van Fraassen, Bas C. 2007. "From a view of science to a new empiricism." In Images of Empiricism: Essays on Science and Stances, with a Reply From Bas C. Van Fraassen, edited by Bradley John Monton, 337-383. Oxford University Press.

van Fraassen, Bas C. 2007. "From a view of science to a new empiricism." In Images of Empiricism: Essays on Science and Stances, with a Reply From Bas C. Van Fraassen, edited by Bradley John Monton. Oxford University Press.

van Fraassen, Bas C. 2011. "On stance and rationality."  Synthese 178 (1):155-169. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9520-1.

Veigl, Sophie Juliane. 2020. "Notes on a complicated relationship: scientific pluralism, epistemic relativism, and stances."  Synthese. doi: 10.1007/s11229-020-02943-2.

Williamson, Jon. 2011. "Objective Bayesianism, Bayesian conditionalisation and voluntarism."  Synthese 178 (1):67-85. doi: 10.1007/s11229-009-9515-y.

Wylie, Alison. 1986. "Arguments for scientific realism: the ascending spiral."  American Philosophical Quarterly 23 (3):287-297.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

An Exciting Way to Fix the NBA Draft

Currently, there are 30 teams in the NBA, 16 of which make the playoffs. The question of what to do with the 14 remaining teams is interesting. I propose the following “Draft Battles.” The basic idea is this:
2.     Each Tournament matchup is a single game; not a multi-game series.
3.     Let’s use Tournament A to work out some details. The points readily extrapolate to Tournaments B and C.
a.     Let’s call the with the worst record Team 1, and extrapolate this nomenclature accordingly. Then Team 4 would be the team with the best record in Tournament A.
b.     The first-round seeding would thus be Teams 1 and 4 play each other; as do Teams 2 and 3. The winners of the first round are guaranteed a draft position of now lower than 2nd. The losers of the first round are guaranteed a draft position of no lower than 4th and no higher than 3rd.
c.     For illustration’s purposes, let’s assume that things go as expected, Teams 3 and 4 win the first round. Then in the second round, they would play each other to determine the first two draft positions. There would be a consolation game between Teams 1 and 2 to determine who drafts third and fourth. Imagine that this also goes as expected, and Team 4 beats Team 3 in Tournament A’s “final”, and Team 2 beats Team 1 in Tournament A’s consolation match. Then the draft order would be the exact opposite of the records: Team 4 would draft 1st, Team 3 would draft 2nd, Team 2 would draft 3rd, and Team 1 would draft 4th. This is no worse than what could happen to the team with the worst record in the current draft lottery.

Advantages of this system.
4.     Added postseason intrigue. In addition to the regular playoffs, there would be the Draft Battle. When there are none of the ties (See 1.a), this would add 14 games. Since there has been talk of shortening the regular season, this would be one way to do so without losing revenue. Presumably, Draft Battles would generate significant ratings because the stakes—draft position—are higher than the regular season games that these teams would be playing. This will be especially exciting when there are heavily hyped prospects, such as Zion Williamson.
5.     Less tanking. If a team knew that it had to at least get two postseason wins to secure the top draft position, then the team would need to make sure that it is competitive come the Draft Battle. Note that this is a significant incentive to invest in player development. A young team is likely to have a poor regular season, which will be good for draft positioning, but may really start to hit its stride just in time for the Draft Battle.
a.     Of course, there are still ways of gaming the system. Teams could bench their quality players for most of the regular season and then reactivate them just in time for the Draft Battle. However, I don’t think this would be any worse than the status quo.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Interpretivism in the Social Sciences: A 21st Century Bibliography

I am compiling a bibliography about "interpretivist" approaches in the social sciences and their critics. Loosely stated, these approaches claim that social-scientific methodology differs profoundly from natural-scientific methodology. 

I largely restrict my focus to 21st-century sources in anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, sociology, and philosophy of the social sciences. It should be noted that the term "interpretivism" is used in other disciplines such as nursing, international relations, philosophy of mind, information systems, organizational studies, business, and law. To keep this bibliography manageable, I'm omitting these more "applied" fields.

I'll be building this bibliography as follows: owing to prior research, I have a very uneven selection of works on this topic already in my personal bibliography. That's the starting point. As time permits, I'll build it up by looking at individual years, starting with 2000 and making my way to the present. I will update incrementally. Currently, I would only deem my bibliographical information up through 2001 to be "complete."

If I've overlooked something (especially your own work!), please let me know, though please also note that if most of an edited book is pertinent, then I do not include its individual chapters as separate entries. 

  • Alexander, J. (2000). Theorizing the Good Society: Hermeneutic, Normative and Empirical Discourses. The Canadian Journal of Sociology / Cahiers canadiens de sociologie, 25(3), 271-309. doi:10.2307/3341644
  • Aronowitz, S., & Robert, A. (2000). A Critique of Methodological Reason. The Sociological Quarterly, 41(4), 699-719.
  • Bryant, J. M. (2000). On sources and narratives in historical social science: a realist critique of positivist and postmodernist epistemologies*. The British Journal of Sociology, 51(3), 489-523. doi:10.1111/j.1468-4446.2000.00489.x
  • Gadamer, H.-G. (2000). Subjectivity and intersubjectivity, subject and person. Continental Philosophy Review, 33(3), 275-287. 
  • Gomm, R., Hammersley, M., & Foster, P. (2000). Case study method: Key issues, key texts. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Groeben, N., & Scheele, B. (2000). Dialogue-hermeneutic Method and the "Research Program Subjective Theories. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 1(2). doi:10.17169/fqs-1.2.1079
  • Harrington, A. (2000a). In Defence of Verstehen and Erklären  Wilhelm Dilthey's Ideas Concerning a Descriptive and Analytical Psychology. Theory & Psychology, 10(4), 435-451. doi:10.1177/0959354300104001
  • Harrington, A. (2000b). Objectivism in Hermeneutics?: Gadamer, Habermas, Dilthey. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 30(4), 491-507. doi:10.1177/004839310003000401
  • Harrington, A. (2000c). Alfred Schutz and the ‘Objectifying Attitude’. Sociology, 34(4), 727-740.
  • Kleining, G., & Witt, H. (2000). The Qualitative Heuristic Approach: A Methodology for Discovery in Psychology and the Social Sciences. Rediscovering the Method of Introspection as an Example. 2000, 1(1). doi:10.17169/fqs-1.1.1123
  • Kögler, H. H., & Stueber, K. R. (Eds.). (2000). Empathy and agency: the problem of understanding in the human sciences. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  • Lapadat, J. C. (2000). Problematizing transcription: purpose, paradigm and quality. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 3(3), 203-219. 
  • Lewandowski, J. D. (2000). Thematizing Embeddedness:Reflexive Sociology as Interpretation. Philosophy of the Social Sciences, 30(1), 49-66. doi:10.1177/004839310003000103
  • Madill, A., Jordan, A., & Shirley, C. (2000). Objectivity and reliability in qualitative analysis: Realist, contextualist and radical constructionist epistemologies. British Journal of Psychology, 91(1), 1-20. doi:10.1348/000712600161646
  • Madison, G. B. (2000). Critical Theory and hermeneutics: Some outstanding issues in the debate. In L. E. Hahn (Ed.), Perspectives on Habermas (pp. 463-482). Chicago: Open Court Publishing.
  • Martin, M. (2000). Verstehen: the uses of understanding in social science. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
  • Orbe, M. P. (2000). Centralizing diverse racial/ethnic voices in scholarly research: the value of phenomenological inquiry. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 24(5), 603-621. doi:
  • Pettit, P. (2000). Winch’s double-edged idea of a social science. History of the Human Sciences, 13(1), 63-77. 
  • Phillips, D. C. (2000). The expanded social scientist's bestiary : a guide to fabled threats to, and defenses of, naturalistic social science. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
  • Polkinghoime, D. E. (2000). Psychological Inquiry and the Pragmatic and Hermeneutic Traditions. Theory & Psychology, 10(4), 453-479. doi:10.1177/0959354300104002
  • Rennie, D. L. (2000). Grounded Theory Methodology as Methodical Hermeneutics: Reconciling Realism and Relativism. Theory & Psychology, 10(4), 481-502. doi:10.1177/0959354300104003
  • Richardson, F. C. (2000). Overcoming Fragmentation in Psychology: A Hermeneutic Approach. The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 21(3), 289-304. 
  • Risjord, M. (2000). Woodcutters and witchcraft: rationality and interpretive change in the social sciences. Albany: State University of New York Press.
  • Schwandt, T. A. (2000). Three epistemological stances for qualitative inquiry: Interpretivism, hermeneutics, and social constructionism. In N. K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed., pp. 189–213). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Smaling, A. (2000). What kind of dialogue should paradigm-dialogues be? Quality and Quantity, 34(1), 51-63. 
  • Topper, K. (2000). In Defense of Disunity: Pragmatism, Hermeneutics, and the Social Sciences. Political Theory, 28(4), 509-539.
  • Williams, M. (2000). Interpretivism and Generalisation. Sociology, 34(2), 209-224.


  • Alexander, J., & Smith, P. (2001). The Strong Program in Cultural Theory: Elements of a Structural Hermeneutics. In J. H. Turner (Ed.), Handbook of Sociological Theory (pp. 135-150). Boston, MA: Springer US.
  • Andersen, H. (2001). Gender inequality and paradigms in the social sciences. Social Science Information, 40(2), 265-289. doi:10.1177/053901801040002004
  • Anderson, K., & Smith, S. J. (2001). Editorial: Emotional Geographies. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 26(1), 7-10.
  • Atkinson, P. (Ed.) (2001). Handbook of ethnography. Thousand Oaks, CA.: Sage Publications.
  • Attride-Stirling, J. (2001). Thematic networks: an analytic tool for qualitative research. Qualitative Research, 1(3), 385-405. doi:10.1177/146879410100100307
  • Baptiste, I. (2001). Qualitative data analysis: Common phases, strategic differences. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 2(3). doi:10.17169/fqs-2.3.917
  • Beeman, W., & Peterson, M. A. (2001). Situations and interpretations: Explorations in interpretive practice. Anthropological Quarterly, 74(4), 159-162. 
  • Boettke, P., & Koppl, R. (Eds.). (2001). Special Issue on Alfred Schütz Centennial, Review of Austrian Economics, 14 (2/3).
  • Bonner, K. M. (2001). Reflexivity and Interpretive Sociology: The Case of Analysis and the Problem of Nihilism. Human Studies, 24(4), 267-292. doi:10.1023/a:1012214826614
  • Bransen, J. (2001). Verstehen and Erklären, Philosophy of. In N. J. Smelser & P. B. Baltes (Eds.), International encyclopedia of the social and behavioural Sciences (pp. 16165-16170). Oxford: Elsevier Science.
  • Buzzoni, M. (2001). The Operationalistic and Hermeneutic Status of Psychoanalysis. Journal for General Philosophy of Science, 32(1), 131-165. doi:10.1023/a:1011204208271
  • Caplan, B. (2001). Probability, Common Sense, and realism: A reply to Hülsmann and Block. Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics, 4(2), 69-86. 
  • Crinson, I. (2001). A realist approach to the analysis of focus group data. Paper presented at the 5th Annual IACR Conference, Roskilde University, Denmark.
  • Crossley, N. (2001). The Phenomenological Habitus and Its Construction. Theory and Society, 30(1), 81-120.
  • Cupchik, G. (2001). Constructivist Realism: An Ontology That Encompasses Positivist and Constructivist Approaches to the Social Sciences. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 2(1). doi:10.17169/fqs-2.1.968
  • Dennett, D. C. (2001). The Evolution of Culture. The Monist, 84(3), 305-324. 
  • Dobres, M.-A. (2001). Meaning in the making: agency and the social embodiment of technology and art. In M. B. Schiffer (Ed.), Anthropological perspectives on technology (pp. 47-76). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Flyvbjerg, B. (2001). Making social science matter : why social inquiry fails and how it can succeed again. Oxford, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press.
  • Follesdal, D. (2001). Hermeneutics. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 82(2), 375-379. doi:10.1516/1d08-f6v9-yvpj-a79w
  • Forstater, M. (2001). Phenomenological and Interpretive-Structural Approaches to Economics and Sociology: Schutzian Themes in Adolph Lowe's Political Economics. The Review of Austrian Economics, 14(2), 209-218. doi:10.1023/a:1011164201386
  • Geertz, C. (2001). Empowering Aristotle. [Making Social Science Matter Why Social Inquiry Fails and How It Can Succeed Again. Bent Flyvbjerg. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001.]. Science, 293(5527), 53. doi:10.1126/science.1062054
  • Gordon, R. M. (2001). Simulation and Reason Explanation: The Radical View. Philosophical Topics, 29(1/2), 175-192.
  • Harrington, A. (2001a). Hermeneutic dialogue and social science : a critique of Gadamer and Habermas. London: Routledge.
  • Harrington, A. (2001b). Dilthey, Empathy and Verstehen: A Contemporary Reappraisal. European Journal of Social Theory, 4(3), 311-329. doi:10.1177/13684310122225145
  • Harrison, J., MacGibbon, L., & Morton, M. (2001). Regimes of trustworthiness in qualitative research: The rigors of reciprocity. Qualitative inquiry, 7(3), 323-345. 
  • Hein, S. F., & Austin, W. J. (2001). Empirical and hermeneutic approaches to phenomenological research in psychology: A comparison. Psychological methods, 6(1), 3-17. 
  • Kleining, G., & Witt, H. (2001). Discovery as basic methodology of qualitative and quantitative research. Paper presented at the Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research.
  • Lewandowski, J. D. (2001). Interpreting culture : rethinking method and truth in social theory. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
  • Marsh, D., & Smith, M. J. (2001). There is More than One Way to Do Political Science: on Different Ways to Study Policy Networks. Political Studies, 49(3), 528-541. doi:10.1111/1467-9248.00325
  • Martin, J., & Sugarman, J. (2001). Interpreting Human Kinds:Beginnings of a Hermeneutic Psychology. Theory & Psychology, 11(2), 193-207. doi:10.1177/0959354301112003
  • Meyer, C. B. (2001). A case in case study methodology. Field methods, 13(4), 329-352.
  • Morse, J. M., Swanson, J. M., & Kuzel, A. J. (Eds.). (2000). The nature of qualitative evidence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Nentwich, J. C. (2001). The process of understanding in qualitative social research. In M. Kiegelmann (Ed.), Qualitative research in psychology (Vol. 1, pp. 240-245). Schwangau: Ingeborg Huber Verlag.
  • Outhwaite, W. (2001). History of hermeneutics. In N. J. Smelser & P. B. Baltes (Eds.), International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. (pp. 6661-6665). London: Elsevier.
  • Rantala, K., & Hellstrom, E. (2001). Qualitative comparative analysis and a hermeneutic approach to interview data. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 4(2), 87-100. doi:10.1080/13645570118545
  • Reason, P., & Bradbury, H. (2001). Handbook of action research : participative inquiry and practice. London ; Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Reason, P., & Torbert, W. R. (2001). The action turn: Toward a transformational social science. Concepts and Transformation, 6(1), 1-37. doi:10.1075/cat.6.1.02rea
  • Reckling, F. (2001). Interpreted Modernity: Weber and Taylor on Values and Modernity. European Journal of Social Theory, 4(2), 153-176. doi:10.1177/13684310122225055
  • Roberts, J. (2001). Dialogue, Positionality and the Legal Framing of Ethnographic Research. Sociological Research Online, 5(4), 1-14. doi:10.5153/sro.542
  • Schreier, M. and Fielding, N. (Eds.) (2001). Qualitative and Quantitative Research: Conjunctions and Divergences A New FQS-Volume. Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung, 26(1 (95)), 187-218.
  • Schneider, K. J., Bugental, J. F. T., & Pierson, J. F. (2001). The handbook of humanistic psychology : leading edges in theory, research, and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Scott, J. W., & Keates, D. (2001). Schools of thought : twenty-five years of interpretive social science. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Sharkey, P. (2001). Hermeneutic phenomenology. In R. Barnacle (Ed.), Phenomenology (pp. 16-37). Melbourne: RMIT University Press.
  • Travers, M. (2001). Qualitative research through case studies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Valsiner, J. (2001). The First Six Years: Culture’s Adventures in Psychology. Culture & Psychology, 7(1), 5-48. doi:10.1177/1354067x0171002
  • Walker, G. (2001). Society and culture in sociological and anthropological tradition. History of the Human Sciences, 14(3), 30-55.

  • Baert, P. (2002). Pragmatism versus sociological hermeneutics. In J. Lehmann (Ed.), Critical theory: Diverse objects, diverse subjects (pp. 349-365). Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
  • Barbalet, J. M. (2002). Emotions and sociology. Oxford ; Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub./Socological Review.
  • Bevir, M., & Rhodes, R. A. W. (2002). Interpretive Theory. In D. Marsh & G. Stoker (Eds.), Theory and methods in political science (2nd ed., pp. 131–152). London: Palgrave.
  • Boettke, P. J., & Storr, V. H. (2002). Post-classical political economy: Polity, society and economy in Weber, Mises and Hayek. American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 61(1), 161-191. 
  • Breckner, R., & Rupp, S. (2002). Discovering biographies in changing social worlds: the biographical-interpretive method. In P. Chamberlayne, M. Rustin, & T. Wengraf (Eds.), Biography and social exclusion in Europe-experiences and life journeys (pp. 289-308). Bristol, UK: Policy Press.
  • Carver, T. (2002). Discourse analysis and the ‘linguistic turn’. European Political Science, 2(1), 50-53. 
  • Clarke, S. (2002). Learning from experience: psycho-social research methods in the social sciences. Qualitative Research, 2(2), 173-194. doi:10.1177/146879410200200203
  • Davis, J. B., & Schwandt, T. A. (2002). [Verstehen: The Uses of Understanding in Social Science, Michael Martin]. Contemporary Sociology, 31(2), 236-237. doi:10.2307/3089546
  • Dostal, R. J. (2002). The Cambridge companion to Gadamer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Friday, August 2, 2019

The Book's Debunking Move

Petri Ylikoski has very kindly reviewed my book. His review raises three interesting questions that I address here.

1. The relevance of epistemology to philosophy of science
Here is Ylikoski’s overarching assessment of the book:
I confess that I have always been doubtful of the relevance of analytical epistemology for philosophy of science. I think Khalifa's book demonstrates this with respect to theories of understanding. (I don't know if he himself would agree with this.) However, I am happy that somebody has worked through the literature.
To be honest, I don’t know if I agree with this either. I mean this quite literally: I have insufficient information to tell you whether I agree with Ylikoski’s claim that epistemology is irrelevant to philosophical theories of scientific understanding. 

Allow me to explain. Give or take a few niceties, what I hoped to “demonstrate” in my book is that understanding is scientific knowledge of an explanation. Objections to that thesis come from both epistemologists and philosophers of science. I would have thought that objections are relevant to a thesis. That would entail the exact opposite of what Ylikoski claims: if successful, the book would have shown that epistemology is relevant to theories of scientific understanding. 

Perhaps Ylikoski meant that none of the answers to these objections required extensive appeal to epistemology. However, as I argue in Chapter 2, an epistemological concept—safety—most sharply distinguishes my view from that of our fellow philosopher of science, Henk de Regt. It’s also difficult for me to see how my discussions of luck (in Chapter 7) and epistemic value (in Chapter 8) don’t involve some epistemological theorizing. So, I think that epistemology is relevant in this sense, too.

What can be gleaned from my book is that philosophers interested in what explanations are and what makes one explanation better than another ought not find understanding especially "deep." Alternatively stated: 
  • Philosophers would be better served by constructing a theory of understanding out of our best theories of explanation and explanatory power than the other way around. 

Call this the (book’s main) debunking move. I stand by that claim, and if Ylikoski thinks that I’ve demonstrated that, then I’ve succeeded in the book’s overarching mission.

There is a certain sense in which the debunking move shows that epistemology is irrelevant to philosophy of science. In the philosophical division of labor, theories of explanation and of explanatory power fall mainly under the purview of philosophers of science. So, if the debunking move is sound, then there would be little left for epistemologists to contribute to a theory of understanding. I suspect that Ylikoski would welcome this result.

2. How much abstraction is too much?
Ylikoski’s main misgiving with my book is that my account of understanding is “too abstract… to consider things like (theoretical or practical) trade-offs between different dimensions of explanatory goodness, or various relations between explanations.” I am puzzled by this assessment. Ylikoski does not indicate how any of my arguments requires a story about these tradeoffs. Indeed, he voices no misgivings about any of the book’s arguments. This suggests that my account of explanation is not too abstract to perform the tasks to which I set it.  Indeed, not only do these tradeoffs play no role in establishing a theory of understanding, the debunking move suggests that understanding should play no role in accounting for these tradeoffs. So, I fail to see why Ylikoski thinks that I should be addressing this issue.

3. The sense and varieties of understanding
The debunking move’s targets are not just epistemologists working on understanding—it also includes philosophers of science working on understanding. Since this seems to include some of Ylikoski's work, I suspect that he thinks this is a bridge too far. This suspicion is confirmed by the two issues he raises as loci for further philosophical theorizing about understanding: 

(a) “It seems that some kind of sense (or feeling) of understanding has an important regulative role in our cognitive lives. It tells us when we need acquire more knowledge and when we have enough understanding to provide an explanation.” 

(b) “We understand both scientific representations (theories, models, graphs, etc.) and phenomena with the help of those representations.” I only address the second of these kinds of understanding.

Ylikoski and I are just going to have disagree about how interesting these issues are. I admit that these probably signal differences in taste more than anything else.

Regarding (a): my view is that the most interesting way of determining whether we have enough understanding isn’t from the sense of understanding; it’s from the conversational context. That may have more to do with agents’ social statuses (as experts communicating to laypersons, for example) than anything going on in their heads. Because none of the book’s arguments hinged on developing these ideas, they were mentioned only in passing (especially in Chapters 1 and 6.) Furthermore, contra Ylikoski, I don’t see why the (philosophically interesting) sense of understanding isn’t reducible to beliefs about what one understands. 

Regarding (b): When it comes to understanding, I can easily see why the explanations and predictions to which scientific representations contribute are of philosophical interest. By contrast, I do not see what’s philosophically interesting about scientific representations’ “legibility” or “user-friendliness.” Emily Sullivan and I briefly discuss our skepticism about legibility's epistemic value in our recent paper.

Despite these disagreements, I am grateful to Ylikoski for prompting me to state the debunking move a bit more explicitly than I did in the book.