Philosophy of Social Sciences (PHIL 301)

2023 Spring
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Gürol Irzık,
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SPS101 SPS102
Interactive lecture
Interactive,Communicative,Discussion based learning
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This course is an introduction to the main issues and approaches in the philosophy of social sciences, with a focus on questions of methodology. These include whether social sciences employ a methodology different from that of the natural sciences; whether explanations in terms of reasons differ in any way from those in terms of causes; the nature of social reality; the relationship between individuals and social structures; the debate between methodological individualism and methodological holism; whether social sciences are value-free or not and the problem of objectivity. General approaches to be discussed are positivism, realism, the hermeneutical-interpretive and critical schools. These approaches and issues will be exemplified in the context of various social scientific disciplines.


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  • Identify and comprehend the main concepts, issues, problems in the social sciences
  • Appreciate the methodological differences between natural and social sciences
  • Compare and critically evaluate different approaches to the study of social phenomena


1. Understand the world, their country, their society, as well as themselves and have awareness of ethical problems, social rights, values and responsibility to the self and to others. 5

2. Understand different disciplines from natural and social sciences to mathematics and art, and develop interdisciplinary approaches in thinking and practice. 4

3. Think critically, follow innovations and developments in science and technology, demonstrate personal and organizational entrepreneurship and engage in life-long learning in various subjects; have the ability to continue to educate him/herself. 5

4. Communicate effectively in Turkish and English by oral, written, graphical and technological means. 5

5. Take individual and team responsibility, function effectively and respectively as an individual and a member or a leader of a team; and have the skills to work effectively in multi-disciplinary teams. 4

1. Develop knowledge of theories, concepts, and research methods in humanities and social sciences. 5

2. Assess how global, national and regional developments affect society. 5

3. Know how to access and evaluate data from various sources of information. 5

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the multiple methodologies and interpret different approaches, concepts, and theoretical legacies in the interdisciplinary field of Cultural Studies. 5

2. Identify interconnections of knowledge within and across the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, literature, visual studies, philosophy, and geography. 5

3. Cultivate a critical approach to the study of culture, articulating the relations between culture, power, and history; exploring cultural diversity and socio-cultural change at the local, national and global level; and exploring the corresponding demands for rights and social justice. 5

4. With the use of appropriate technologies, be able to present advanced oral and written evaluations of developments in the realm of cultural production, consumption, and representation. 2

1. To analyze national and global events from various social science perspectives. 3

2. To demonstrate theoretical and practical knowledge on political science and international relations and to state views and positions with advanced oral and written skills. 4

3. To compete for increasing career opportunities in national and global institutions. 2

4. To (be able to) understand and follow the changes in political behaviours, opinions and structures. 3

5. To gain the ability to make logical inferences on social and political issues based on comparative and historical knowledge. 5

1. Develop an interdisciplinary understanding of the workings of human mind and behavior, and use this understanding to advance psychological theory, research and applications. 4

2. Analyze psychological phenomena critically and provide constructive analysis at the individual and the societal levels, and integrate with the professional life. 4

3. Consume and provide input for psychological literature by demonstrating proficiency in research design, methods, and statistical analyses, computing skills, and ethical standards; and develop a habit of expressing these with advanced oral and written skills; share in national and international platforms. 3

1. Understand and follow changes in patterns of political behavior, ideas and structures. 4

2. Develop the ability to make logical inferences about social and political issues on the basis of comparative and historical knowledge. 5


  Percentage (%)
Final 33
Midterm 33
Assignment 20
Participation 14



C. Hempel, Philosophy of Natural Science (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1966), pp. 1-32.

E. Durkheim, ?Social Facts?. (In M. Martin and L. C. McIntyre, eds. Readings in the Philosophy of Social Science, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994), pp. 433-440.

E. Durkheim, The Rules of Sociological Method (The Free Press, 1964), pp. 89-146. Pay attention to pages 95-97, 102-106, 110-111, 125, 130, 131, 144-146.

A. Rosenberg, ?Holism and Reductionism in Sociology and Psychology?. In Philosophy of Social Science, Boulder: Westview Press, 2012), 39-42 and pp. 169-190).

F. Chernoff, ?The Impact of Duhemian Principles on Social Science Testing and Progress?. (In H. Kincaid, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Social Science, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 229-258.

G. Goertz, ?Descriptiptive-Causal Generalizations: 'Empirical Laws' in the Social Sciences?? (In H. Kinkaid, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Social Science, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. 85-108.

M. Martin, ?Philosophical Importance of the Rosenthal Effect?, (In M. Martin and L. C. McIntyre, eds. Readings in the Philosophy of Social Science, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994), pp. 585-596.

P. Winch, ?Understanding a Primitive Society?, (In F. Dallmayr and T. McCarthy, eds. Understanding and Social Inquiry, Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press, 1977), pp.159-188.

C. Geertz, ?Thick Description: Toward and Interpretive Theory of Culture?, (In The Interpretation of Cultures, New York: Basic Books, 1973), pp. 3-30.

C. Geertz, ?Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight?, (In The Interpretation of Cultures, New York: Basic Books, 1973), pp. 412-453.

D. Follesdal, ?Hermeneutics and the Hypothetico-Deductive Method?, (In M. Martin and L. C. McIntyre, eds. Readings in the Philosophy of Social Science, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994), pp. 233-246.

A. Rosenberg, ?Problems of Rational Choice Theory?, In Philosophy of Social Science, Boulder: Westview Press, 2012), pp. 89-116).

K. Polanyi, The Great Transformation, (Boston: Beacon Press, 2001), pp. 45-80.

K. Marx, ?Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy?, 1859.

R. Keat and J. Urry, ?Chapter 5: Marx and Realism?, in Social Theory as Science, 2nd ed. Routledge and Keagan Paul, 1982, pp. 96-118, 240-243 and 254-271.

D. M. McLellan, Ideology, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1986, pp. 10-20.

K. Popper, ?Preface? to The Poverty of Historicism, New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1957, pp. vi-viii.

K. Popper, ?Historicism?, in Popper Selections, (ed. D. Miller), Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985, pp. 289-303.

J. Habermas ?Appendix? to Knowledge and Human Interests, Heinemann, 1972, pp. 301-317 and 348-349.

I. Hacking, ?What is Social Construction? Teenage Pregnancy Example?, (In G. Delanty and P. Strydom, Philosophies of Social Science, Maidenhead: Open University Press, 2003), pp. 421-428.

Optional Readings

If you are not familiar with basic philosophy of science, you can read A. Chalmer?s What is This Thing Called Science? (3rd ed. Open University Press 1999) or P. Godfrey-Smith?s Theory and reality (Chicago U. P. 2003). R. Keat and J. Urry?s Social Theory as Science provides an overall introduction to the issues and approaches discussed in this course. Part I of this book can also serve as a condensed introduction to some of the basic issues in philosophy of science. İlkay Sunar?s Düşün ve Toplum (Doruk yayınları 1999) is also interesting and useful as a general introduction. For Durkheim?s views see S. Lukes Emile Durkheim (Penguin 1975). L. Lefebvre?s The Sociology of Marx (Vintage 1969) provides an introduction especially to sociological aspects of Marx?s thought. For Weber?s methodology see F. Ringer Max Weber?s Methodology (Harvard U.P. 1997). Ayşe Buğra?s İktisatçılar ve İnsanlar (İletişim Yayınları 1995) is a must for anybody interested in the methodology of economics. So is D. Hausman?s The Inexact and Separate Science of Economics (Cambridge U. P., 1992), but it is more technical. See A. O?Hear?s Karl Popper (Routledge and Keagan Paul, 1980) for Popper?s philosophy. For a critical approach to Winch?s views see E. Gellner?s ?The New Idealism? (in Cause and Meaning in the Social Sciences, Routledge and Keagan Paul 1973). A. Giddens? New Rules of Sociological Method (2nd ed. Polity Press 1993) is a constructive criticism of the interpretive approach. R. Fancher?s Psychoanalytic Psychology (Norton 1973) is a very good introduction to Freud?s psychoanalytic theory. For Habermas? views see T. McCarthy?s The Critical Theory of Jürgen Habermas (MIT Press 1978). R. Geuss's The Idea of a Critical Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981) is a concise introduction to critical theory. E. Carr?s What is History? (Vintage Books 1961) has become a classic about the nature of history as a discipline and has been translated into Turkish. J. Tosh?s Tarihin Peşinde (Tarih Vakfı Yurt Yayınları 1997) is also useful.