University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) seminar > Nominalism in the social sciences: promises and pitfalls

Nominalism in the social sciences: promises and pitfalls

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  • UserAriane Hanemaayer (Brandon University and CRASSH, Cambridge)
  • ClockWednesday 02 December 2020, 13:00-14:30
  • HouseZoom.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Matt Farr.

Nominalism is typically defined in philosophical analysis as a metaphysics that rejects the existence of universal and abstract entities. It emerged during a period of unrest in medieval Europe in response to criticisms within theology. There is a lesser known set of nominalist commitments, however, that have been inflected into social science theories and practice: a split between words and things, and the romantic specter of the Will. This presentation discusses work from two forthcoming co-authored projects (with Ronjon Paul Datta, Windsor) that posit nominalism as the defining commitments of the social sciences. Insufficient attention has been paid to these commitments by social theorists and philosophers, I argue, since nominalism offers critical sensibilities while also raising serious questions regarding theoretical coherence. I discuss two key classical theoretical terrains and conclude with the normative pitfalls of holding nominalist commitments.

This talk is part of the CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) seminar series.

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