Explanatory Autonomy and Coleman's Boat

Citation data:

THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, ISSN: 0495-4548, Vol: 27, Issue: 2, Page: 137-151

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Repository URL:
10.1387/theoria.3016; 10.1387/theoria.3016.
Daniel Eastman Little
UPV/EHU Press; Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea / Universidad del PaĆ­s Vasco
Arts and Humanities
article description
The paper addresses the question of whether an actor-centered social ontology can admit of relatively autonomous social causal explanations. It offers an alternative to the theory of social causation represented by Coleman's Boat, according to which all macro-explanations must proceed through micro-level processes. The paper argues instead that the examples of other special sciences demonstrate the validity of the idea of "relative explanatory autonomy" in the case of social causal reasoning. These considerations provide a basis for affirming the legitimacy of causal statements about meso-level causal relations.