Philosophy of Social Science Online Course

As part of the Beyond Positivism: Re-Imagining the Social Sciences Project, we will be presenting the Philosophy of Social Science Online Course in collaboration with Yale University. The intensive online course is designed to assist graduate students in sociology and philosophy with an overview of some of the philosophical underpinnings of current problems in social theory and an overview of how a critical realist philosophy of science might help to resolve them. It will also provide you with the opportunity to connect with other educators, scholars, and researchers who are interested in developing their understand of critical realism.

This course focuses on Critical Realism and its implications for sociological methods and research. We will present Critical Realism as a medium between positivism and post-modernism. Key themes include strong social emergence, causal powers, human personhood, human flourishing, weak biological essentialism, and methodological pluralism. We explore the implications of Critical Realism for both quantitative and qualitative research as well as for our own ongoing research projects.

The course is organized into six week-long units:

Module 1: Introduction to Critical Realism
Module 2: Causes, Powers, Laws, and Mechanisms: What’s a good explanation?
Module 3: Emergence and Stratification: Implications for our Understandings of Social Structure
Module 4: Critical Realist Theory of Social Structure, Culture, and Agency Debates
Module 5: Ethics, Values, and Human Flourishing
Module 6: Critical Realism and Methods

The Philosophy of Social Science online course is made possible by the generous funding from the John Templeton Foundation. We are very grateful for the continued funding and support of the Foundation.