Peter Winch and the Autonomy of the Social Sciences

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This article offers a reassessment of the main import of Peter Winch’s philosophy of the social sciences. Critics argue that Winch presented a flawed methodology for the social sciences, while his supporters deny that Winch’s work is about methodology at all. Contrary to both, the author argues that Winch deals with fundamental questions about methodology, and that there is something substantial to learn from his account. Winch engages methodological questions without being committed to social ontology. Instead, Winch’s work on methodology is best described as a descriptive metaphysics of social inquiry. This alternative reading clarifies the close link between Winch’s argument for the autonomy of the social sciences and R. G. Collingwood’s philosophy of history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)150-174
JournalPhilosophy of the Social Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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