Beyond Positivism: Re-Imagining the Social Sciences Project
We have built a Critical Realist movement within North American sociology with allies in neighboring disciplines including psychology, anthropology, philosophy, and theology. We have mounted a serious challenge to both sociological positivism and cultural relativism and successfully reignited debate about critical realism and human flourishing amongst our colleagues. We have forcefully argued for the reality of human persons who are able to act freely in an open world. With the Beyond Positivism: Re-Imaginging the Social Sciences Project, we are aiming to broaden, deepen, and institutionalize this movement and with it, social scientific forms of moral enquiry. With additional funding from the John Templeton Foundation, we will continue to develop online resources, including a Philosophy of Social Sciences Online Course, Book Series Proposals, and publish comprehesive reports about current mainstream methods being used in sociology departments.
We will be asking questions like, what sort of scientific methods and methods training are appropriate to a fully realist and post-positivist social science? How would the texts and training in a realist methods curriculum differ from those currently in place? What sorts of interventions into the existing methods literature would be most effective? What are the social preconditions of human flourishing and the common good and how can sociology contribute to our knowledge of them? Is it possible to construct a positive sociology analogous to positive psychology? What methods and subfields within sociology could contribute most to such a project?