Social science gives rise to a broad range of axiological, ontological, epistemological and methodological issues. The general aim of the philosophy of social science is to address these issues in a way that promotes social research. In keeping with this aim, the course provides an introduction to central questions in the philosophy of science focused on showing their relevance for research design and practice.
Course description for study year 2021-2022. Please note that changes may occur.
Semester tution start
Number of semesters
Language of instruction
Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Media and Social Sciences
Upon completion of the course, students should have acquired the following knowledge, skills and general competence.
Knowledge of central issues and approaches in the philosophy of science in general, and the philosophy of social science in particular.
Knowledge of central issues and approaches relating to research evaluation, design and practice in social science .
Knowledge of how the two sets of issues and approaches relate to one another.
Ability to recognize that and how social research gives rise to philosophical questions of various kinds.
Ability to present and discuss issues in the philosophy of science in general and the philosophy of social science in general in an informed and independent way.
Ability to present and discuss issues relating to research evaluation, design and practice in an informed and independent way.
Ability to present and discuss the relation between the two sets of issues in an informed and independent way.
Competence in acquiring knowledge of issues of academic importance, as well as in analyzing and discussing them in independent ways.
Competence in seeing connections between different areas of academic discourse, and in bringing these to bear on one's own work in academically fruitful ways.
Thematically, the course is in three parts: general philosophy of science, philosophy of social science and research design and evaluation.
1. General philosophy of science: Topics here include the nature of science and the question of how to demarcate science from non-science; the nature of scientific reasoning; the nature of scientific rationality; and the relation between language and reality.
2. Philosophy of social science: Topics here include the nature of social science and the question of how to specify the difference between social science and natural science; the question of how to characterize social reality and of what it might mean to claim that social phenomena are socially constructed; and the question of the role of values in social science, and the consequences of this role for issues relating to scientific objectivity.
3. Research design and evaluation: Topics here include tools for evaluating the scientific quality of research publications; the nature of scientific constructs and conceptual models; forms of scientific analysis and measurement; and the difference between quantitative and qualitative methodologies.
Required prerequisite knowledge
Form of assessment
Exam at home
A - F
The required length of the exam essay is 3 000 words (+/- 10%), title page, notes and references not included.
The assignments of the two work requirements are to be answered by randomly determined groups.