, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 441-458

Pluralism, Indeterminacy and the Social Sciences: Reply to Ingram and Meehan

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Abstract

This article defends methodological and theoretical pluralism in the social sciences. While pluralistic, such a philosophy of social science is both pragmatic and normative. Only by facing the problems of such pluralism, including how to resolve the potential conflicts between various methods and theories, is it possible to discover appropriate criteria of adequacy for social scientific explanations and interpretations. So conceived, the social sciences do not give us fixed and universal features of the social world, but rather contribute to the task of improving upon our practical knowledge of on-going social life. After arguing for such a thorough-going pluralism based on the indeterminacy of social action, I defend it from the post-modern and hermeneutic objections by suggesting the possibility of an epistemology of interpretive social science as a form of practical knowledge.