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Problems of Explanation and Interpretation


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6

Module description

This module examines the approaches of the three disciplines to the distinct logic of social explanation, problems of meaning and interpretation, and historiography and historical interpretation.

Amongst other things, it considers:

  • the nature and methodologies of social explanation, as exemplified in the work of some major social theorists: causation and covering laws, psychological explanation, rational choice theory, interpretation in social science, structuralism and functionalism, holism and individualism
  • problems of objectivity in social science: facts and values, the possibility of value free social science, the implications of Wittgenstein’s argument on language, the role of interests in social science; and social science as critique
  • the nature of political science and political theory, and the relationship between power, ideology and social and political explanation
  • the problems of objectivity in historical knowledge: the ideal of scientific history and its challengers, postmodern and relativist views of history, the politics of historical debates.