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social world and much of the natural world, they do not generate regular
patterns of events.
Social phenomena such as actions, texts and institutions are concept-
dependent. We therefore have not only to explain their production and
material effects but to understand, read or interpret what they mean.
Science or the production of any other kind of knowledge is a social practice.
… For better or worse (not just worse) the conditions and social relations of
the production of knowledge influence its content. Knowledge is also largely –
though not exclusively – linguistic, and the nature of language and the way we
communicate are not incidental to what is known and communicated.
…Awareness of these relationships is vital in evaluating knowledge.
Social science must be critical of its object. In order to be able to explain and
understand social phenomena we have to evaluate them critically.”
“Scientific realism regards theoretical terms as attempts to refer to pre-existing,
previously unobserved, and perhaps in principle unobservable things and properties.
A successful theory should be true and informative: its existential claims should
match entities existing in reality, and its universal or probabilistic laws should give a
correct description of the regularities in the behavior of these entities.” (Wimsatt,
“The basic idea, the basic intuition, behind realism is that there exists a reality that is
totally independent of our representations of it and that has enormous consequences,
because, among other consequences, it lends support to the idea of some sort of
correspondent conception of truth: If there’s a reality out there, then our
representations of it are, at least in some respects, answerable to that reality and they
will be true or false depending on whether or not they succeed in meeting that
requirement.” … It turns out we're never directly aware of the real world and
perception. We're always aware only of our own experiences and we're then often
running with traditional epistemology. … You can't send men to the moon and back
and wonder if it's really possible to make secure predictions about the future based on
inductive reasoning. (Searle, 2012)
Salmon declared that "underlying causal mechanisms hold the key to our
understanding of the world" (Salmon 1984,260). This is because "causal processes, causal
interactions, and causal laws provide the mechanisms by which the world works; to
understand why certain things happen, we need to see how they are produced by these
mechanisms" (ibid., 132).
“[W]hat is distinctive about mechanistic explanations is their appeal to the
components of a system and their causal interactions. According to this account, to
explain a phenomenon is to give an account of how a causal mechanism, a
hierarchical system composed of component parts and their properties, gives rise to,
sustains, or produces the phenomenon. Each component is able to perform (causally)