Dialogue and the development of ideas in the political and social sciences: from critical-realism to problem-solving via Colin Hay and the rejection of the epistemic fallacy

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Abstract

Colin Hay’s extensive work on politics helps illustrate that ideas can have significant traction of their own which inhibits change. Therefore accounts of conceptual development in the political and social sciences should examine the possibility of slow dialogue, as a form of communication hospitable to innovation. For critical-realism, justified explanations must avoid the ‘epistemic fallacy’ of conflating ontological questions about what reality is with epistemological questions about how we know reality; it prefers basing explanations on an ontology of structure and agency. I argue, using Popper and Lakatos’s problem-solving epistemology, that the critical-realist construction of the epistemic fallacy is untenable, and that attempts at justification entail what I call ‘speedy’ dialogue, with putatively ‘unjustified’ positions being simply rejected; unlike the slow dialogue that problem-solving demands. I also use Hay to show how problem-solving needs to include ontological references, once they are separated from the attempt to justify ideas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-96
Number of pages25
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural And Political Sociology
Volume3
Issue number1
Early online date19 Apr 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Critical-Realism
  • Epistemic Fallacy
  • Hay
  • Popper
  • Problem-Solving

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