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INTRODUCTION

Realism in the social sciences

Margaret Archer

‘But social reality is different. . . .’ Whether this statement comes from the guts of popular phenomenalism (the feeling that football players are doing something quite unlike billiard balls), or from one of the long philosophical traditions accentuating society’s intrinsic meaningfulness and activity-dependence (which are the main ways of upholding that social life is not self-subsistent like nature), this assertion of difference forbids us to move directly from Part I to Part II. The reason behind this embargo is always some conviction about the impossibility of naturalism; the ontology of the natural and social worlds being so distinct that they preclude any version of the ‘unity ...

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