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The Logic of Social Science

James Mahoney

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Sozialwissenschaften, Recht, Wirtschaft / Methoden der empirischen und qualitativen Sozialforschung


A groundbreaking logic-based approach to bridging the scientific-constructivist divide in social science

The Logic of Social Science offers new principles for designing and conducting social science research. James Mahoney uses set-theoretic analysis to develop a fresh scientific constructivist approach that avoids essentialist biases in the production of knowledge. This approach recognizes that social categories depend on collective understandings for their existence, but it insists that this recognition need not hinder the use of explicit procedures for the rational assessment of truth. Mahoney shows why set-theoretic analysis enables scholars to avoid the pitfalls of essentialism and produce findings that rest on a firm scientific foundation.

Extending his previous work and incorporating new material, Mahoney presents specific tools for formulating and evaluating theories in the social sciences. Chapters include discussions of models of causality, procedures for testing propositions, tools for conducting counterfactual and sequence analysis, and principles for knowledge accumulation. Equal focus is placed on theory building and explanatory tools, including principles for working with general theoretical orientations and normative frameworks in scientific research. Mahoney brings a novel perspective to understanding the relationship among actors, social rules, and social resources, and he offers original ideas for the analysis of temporality, critical events, and path dependence.

Bridging the rift between those who take a scientific approach and those who take a constructivist one, The Logic of Social Science forges an ambitious way forward for social science researchers.



Principle, Constitutionalism, Subset, Objectivity (philosophy), Categorization, Social movement, Likelihood function, Narrative, Theory, Value (ethics), Contingency (philosophy), Literature, Finding, Natural kind, Case study, Disposition, Regime, Reason, Prediction, Scientific method, Ontology, Instance (computer science), Level of analysis, Social science, Illustration, Sociology, Natural science, Conceptual Spaces, Necessity and sufficiency, Uncertainty, Utilitarianism, Hypothesis, Methodology, Existence, Causal chain, Democratization, Logic, Psychology, Mathematics, Bayesian inference, Welfare state, Understanding, Liberal democracy, Requirement, Conceptualization (information science), Obstacle, Modal logic, Thought, Explanation, Cost–benefit analysis, Concept, Reality, Philosophy of science, Sequence analysis, Logical reasoning, Metaphor, Public policy, Social structure, Consideration, Social reality, Force dynamics, Quantity, Social constructionism, Theda Skocpol, Diagram (category theory), Scientist, Causality, Cognitive model, Rebuttal, Phenomenon, Bayesian probability, Ideal type, Possible world, Essentialism, Reductionism, Rational choice theory, Cognitive science, Institution, Path dependence, Relativism, Constructivist epistemology, Bayesian, Analogy, Social theory, Measurement, Certainty, Inference, Regression analysis, Epistemology, Ceteris paribus, Bayes' theorem, Image schema, Labour movement, Probability, Qualitative comparative analysis, Philosophy, Political science, Modal realism, Result, Causal inference