Wittgenstein and the Social Sciences

Wittgenstein and the Social Sciences

Action, Ideology and Justice

By Robert Vinten

Anthem Studies in Wittgenstein

Vinten looks at the relationship between Wittgenstein’s philosophy and the social sciences as well as at the ideological implications of Wittgenstein’s philosophy and applications of Wittgenstein’s philosophy to problems in social science. He examines and assesses the work of thinkers like Richard Rorty, Perry Anderson, and Chantal Mouffe.

Paperback, 236 Pages

ISBN:9781839981746

June 2021

£25.00, $40.00

  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
  • Links

About This Book

In Wittgenstein and the Social Sciences, Robert Vinten takes a fresh look at the relationship between Wittgenstein’s philosophy and the social sciences. The book locates Wittgenstein’s philosophy in relation to the social sciences. This involves getting clear about what Wittgenstein was doing in his philosophical work as well as about the nature of the social sciences. Vinten argues that the social sciences can be considered scientific despite the fact that social sciences have different methods and subject matter to the natural sciences. He then examines problems associated with relativism within the social sciences and considers whether Wittgenstein might be a relativist of some sort. 

The book goes on to consider whether Wittgenstein’s philosophy lends support to any particular political ideology and asks an important question: whether Wittgenstein himself was a conservative, liberal, or socialist. This question is explored involving a critical engagement with Wittgenstein scholars, cultural theorists, and political philosophers such as J. C. Nyiri, Richard Rorty, Alex Callinicos, Perry Anderson, and Terry Eagleton.

Finally, the book considers how Wittgenstein’s philosophical remarks can help us in getting to grips with problems in the social sciences and political philosophy. A criticism of Patricia Churchland and Christopher Suhler’s neurobiological account of control suggests that Wittgenstein’s work can be useful in getting rid of problems concerning freedom of the will. A critical engagement with thinkers like John Rawls and Chantal Mouffe is used to examine the relevance of Wittgenstein’s philosophy to discussions of justice. Wittgenstein’s work is clearly relevant to issues of injustice that are with us today.

Reviews

“Robert Vinten has produced an impressively meticulous and wide-ranging discussion of how Wittgenstein’s mature philosophy can revitalize the social sciences. There is insight and scholarship on every page. This important book will open up new possibilities for both philosophers and social scientists.” —Leonidas Tsilipakos, Lecturer, University of Bristol, UK

“Vinten’s book will be an invaluable tool for anyone interested in the social relevance of Wittgenstein’s later thought.” —Nuno Venturinha, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Nova University of Lisbon, Portugal

Author Information

Robert Vinten is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in Lisbon, Portugal, working on a project concerned with Wittgenstein and religious epistemology. He studied history and philosophy in Glasgow, going on to obtain a doctorate at Universidade Nova in Lisbon in Wittgensteinian philosophy.

Series

Anthem Studies in Wittgenstein

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction; Part 1 The Nature of Philosophy and of Social Science; 1. Is There Such a Thing as a Social Science?; 2. Wittgenstein and Relativism; Part 2 Does Wittgenstein’s Work Have Ideological Implications?; 3. Was Wittgenstein a Conservative Philosopher?; 4. Was Wittgenstein a Liberal Philosopher?; 5. Leave Everything as It Is; 6. Eagleton’s Wittgenstein; Part 3 Applying Wittgenstein’s Work to Problems in Social Philosophy; 7. Wittgenstein and Freedom of the Will; 8. Wittgenstein and Justice; Bibliography; Index.

Links

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