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Social Science Research

Objectivity in Social Science

by (author) Frank Cunningham

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Dec 1973
Research, Criticism, General, Essays
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    Publish Date
    Dec 1973
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The debates over objectivity in the social sciences have a long history; there have been contributions by philosophers and social theorists from a variety of viewpoints, including empiricism, phenomenology, pragmatism, and Marxism. Objectivity in Social Science combats the widespread opinion that objective inquiry is impossible in the social sciences by drawing together and exhibiting the weaknesses of arguments, taken from positions in the philosophies of science, social science, language, and perception, in favour of anti-objectivism, arguments which have recurred in one form or another throughout the course of these debates.


As the author puts it, 'What I have attempted to offer is at the least a convenient map for finding one's way about in the tangle of issues surrounding the question of objectivity in social science and at the most a set of arguments sufficient to convince the perplexed, and presently wrong-headed, of the (objective) falsity of social-scientific anti-objectivism.' In the course of the book arguments advanced by such influential figures as Thomas Kuhn, Benjamin Lee Whorf, Karl Mannheim, N.R. Hanson, Peter Winch, Michael Polanyi, P.K. Feyerabend, and Jürgen Habermas, among others, are critically examined, as are attempts of pragmatists, phenomenologists, and others to construct alternatives to the objectivist interpretation of conflict and progress in the development of social-scientific knowledge.

About the author

Frank Cunningham is a professor emeritus of Philosophy and Political Science at the University of Toronto.

Frank Cunningham's profile page

Other titles by Frank Cunningham