Realism and Antirealism

Authored by: Randall Harp , Kareem Khalifa

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Social Science

Print publication date:  December  2016
Online publication date:  December  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138825758
eBook ISBN: 9781315410098
Adobe ISBN: 9781315410081


 Download Chapter



Our best social scientific theories try to tell us something about the social world. But is talk of a “social world” a metaphor that we ought not take too seriously? In particular, do the denizens of the social world—cultural values like the Protestant work ethic, firms like ExxonMobil, norms like standards of dress and behavior, institutions like the legal system, teams like FC Barcelona, conventions like marriages—exist? The question is not merely academic. Social scientists use these different social entities to explain social phenomena such as the rise of capitalism, the decline in oil prices, or the effect of unions on the sports labor market. But how could these explanations possibly work if social entities don’t exist?

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.