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Book Review: Contemporary Philosophy of Social Science: A Multicultural Approach

Book Review: Contemporary Philosophy of Social Science: A Multicultural Approach


PHILOSOPHY OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES / June 1999BOOK REVIEWS Book Reviews Brian Fay, Contemporary Philosophy of Social Science: A Multicultural Approach. Blackwell, Oxford, UK, 1997. Pp. 266. $54.95 (cloth), $21.95 (paper). Brian Fay's Contemporary Philosophy of Social Science: A Multicultural Approach introduces issues in the philosophy of the social sciences by way of multiculturalism. Many of the issues traditionally addressed in introduc- tory textbooks are addressed here, including individualism, holism, relativ- ism, rationality, causality, interpretive understanding, objectivity, and the nature of social laws. Issues and positions not always addressed include the nature of the self and others, hermeneutics, critical theory, deconstruction, narrative realism, and narrative construction. These latter give the book its contemporary flair. Together, the traditional and contemporary issues pro- vide a broad account of the philosophy of the social sciences. This is the book's strength. Fay's main theme is that multiculturalism needs to be replaced by a mod- erated version called interactionism. Multiculturalism is the view that cul- tures are fundamentally different from one another, and combined with rela- tivism, these differences prevent social scientists from understanding cultures different from their own. Multiculturalism and relativism are, Fay says, "mistaken though not entirely wrong" (p. 7) for
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