I am a philosopher of social science with a strong interest in China and Southeast Asia. Paying attention to the logical and conceptual issues raised by the social sciences is key to better understanding the modern world. I think philosophers need to interact seriously and extensively with working social scientists and historians if they are going to be able to make a useful contribution.

72704 points



  • The Near Future

    There is a lot going on in America and the world today: climate change, increasing separation between the rich and the non-rich, entrenched poverty in cities,... Read more

    Posted on 19 April 2014 SOCIETY
  • Historical Sociologists on Critical Realism

    Critical realism took its origin within the philosophy discipline, arising at the time that there was profound debate over the adequacy of logical positivism... Read more

    Posted on 15 April 2014 SOCIETY
  • Naturalizing Causal Powers

    Several earlier posts have considered Tuukka Kaidesoja's very interesting recent book, Naturalizing Critical Realist Social Ontology (NCR). Read more

    Posted on 10 April 2014 SOCIETY
  • Entrenched Poverty

    A quick review of Peter Edelman's So Rich, So Poor: Why it’s So Hard to End Poverty in America posted on svbtle.com ...http://dlittle30.svbtle. Read more

    Posted on 05 April 2014 SOCIETY
  • Quantitative and Qualitative Social Science

    The social world is one reality, but the methodologies associated with quantitative and qualitative research are quite different. Read more

    Posted on 02 April 2014 SOCIETY
  • War and Calculation

    The Crimea is now securely within the grasp of Russia. This shift occurred as the result of the use of military force seemingly unconcerned about international... Read more

    Posted on 29 March 2014 SOCIETY
  • Causal Necessity?

    Do causes make their effects “necessary” in any useful sense? This is the claim that Hume rejected — the notion that there is any “necessary” connection... Read more

    Posted on 23 March 2014 SOCIETY
  • Social Contingency?

    Image: Mason-Pfizer monkey virus (link)Image: organization chart of General MotorsWhat does it mean to say that the social world is contingent? Several things. Read more

    Posted on 17 March 2014 SOCIETY
  • Why Emergence?

    It is a fair question to ask, whether the concept of emergence is perhaps less important than it initially appears to be. Part of the interest in emergence seem... Read more

    Posted on 09 March 2014 SOCIETY
  • Kaidesoja on Emergence

    Tuukka Kaidesoja's recent book Naturalizing Critical Realist Social Ontology devotes a chapter to the topic of emergence as it is treated within critical... Read more

    Posted on 08 March 2014 SOCIETY
  • Social Plasticity and Ontology

    Ruth Groff has created a valuable blog and Facebook page on "Powers, Capacities, Dispositions"aimed at creating a community of scholars interested in the... Read more

    Posted on 04 March 2014 SOCIETY
  • New Thinking About Metaphysics

    It seems that there is a lot happening in metaphysics these days. There is of course the return to Aristotle that has occurred within the resurgent field of... Read more

    Posted on 02 March 2014 SOCIETY
  • Social Powers?

    I am one of those people who think that causal claims are the foundation of almost all explanations. When we ask for an explanation of something, we generally... Read more

    Posted on 28 February 2014 SOCIETY
  • A Causal Narrative?

    source: Edward Tufte, edwardtufte.comIn a recent post I referred to the idea of a causal narrative (link). Here I would like to sketch out what I had in mind... Read more

    Posted on 21 February 2014 SOCIETY
  • Lincoln and Marx

    Robin Blackburn has assembled a fascinating book drawing out some surprising connections between Abraham Lincoln and Karl Marx, An Unfinished Revolution: Karl... Read more

    Posted on 18 February 2014 SOCIETY
  • Causal Narratives, Mechanisms, and Powers

    A million termites move around industriously without supervisors or external coordination. Some months later, a great structure has arisen — a termite... Read more

    Posted on 16 February 2014 SOCIETY
  • "How Does It Work" Questions

    Source: Karl Ove Moene in Alternatives to Capitalism, p. 85One of the strengths of the causal-mechanisms approach to social explanation is how it responds to a... Read more

    Posted on 13 February 2014 SOCIETY
  • Skocpol on the 1979 Revolution in Iran

    An earlier post reviewed Theda Skocpol's effort in States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia and China to provide a comparative,... Read more

    Posted on 12 February 2014 SOCIETY
  • Skocpol on the Chinese Revolution

    (Sources: States and Social Revolutions, pp. 155, 282)In States and Social Revolutions: A Comparative Analysis of France, Russia and China (1979) Theda Skocpol... Read more

    Posted on 08 February 2014 SOCIETY
  • Understanding the Chinese Revolution

    source: Lucien Bianco, Origins of the Chinese Revolution, frontispieceThe Chinese Revolution is one of the world-historical events that has set the stage for th... Read more

    Posted on 04 February 2014 CULTURE, HISTORY, SOCIETY