New Philosophies of Social Science: the Realist Alternative

William Outhwaite



This text provides a detailed examination of realism as a philosophy of natural science and its implications for the practice of social science. It also summarises some of the central themes of realism and its relations with other philosophical traditions. Realism is seen as essentially an ontological doctrine which means that it shares with neo-pragmatism a  critique of the predominantly epistemological stress – most evident in rationalism – of much recent philosophy. It is argued that on the relation between science and philosophy, realism adopts intermediate  position between the anti-philosophical philosophy of the pragmatists and the rationalist conception as the judge of science. In conclusion, new realist philosophy of science – newly defined against earlier versions of realism – is offered as a sufficient tool with which the endemic problems of the social sciences might be addressed.

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TEORIE VĚDY / THEORY OF SCIENCE – journal for interdisciplinary studies of science is published twice a year by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Centre for Science, Technology, and Society Studies). ISSN 1210-0250 (Print) ISSN 1804-6347 (Online) MK ČR E 18677 web: /// email: