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Philosophy of Social Science


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Knowledge

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Law, Governance, and Politics

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Natural Sciences

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Psychology


The social sciences require independent attention from philosophers of science. We need to answer questions about social ontology (what are the fundamental entities and phenomena of the social world?), measurement (can we, and should we, quantify social entities and phenomena?), explanation (what does a good explanation of social entities and phenomena look like?) and values (can and should our theories about social entities and phenomena be objectively established?). This course aims to answer these questions by bringing together classic and contemporary theories in philosophy of social science as well as real examples from social scientific research.

Course objectives

This course aims to familiarize students with philosophy of social science, and teach them to critically evaluate both key positions in philosophy of social science and some social scientific research itself.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the central theories in philosophy of social science, including but not limited to discussions of social ontology, measurement, causation, and values in science.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • describe and evaluate evaluate social scientific research using classic and contemporary theories from philosophy of social science;

  • argue for their own position on key issues in the philosophy of social science;

  • critically discuss aspects of both of the above in a philosophical paper.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Assessment method


  • Mid-term paper (30%)

  • Abstract assignment (20%)

  • Final paper (50%)

Attendance and active participation in class is required for admission to the exam.


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests (see above).


The resit consist of an opportunity to redo either the mid-term or the final paper. The grades for the other exam component, as well as the abstract assignment, remain in place. Students can only resubmit a failed paper.

Students who have obtained a satisfactory overall grade cannot take the resit.
Attendance and active participation in class is required for admission to the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • Cartwright, N. and Montuschi, E. (2015) Philosophy of Social Science: A New Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Additional required articles; links will be posted on Brightspace.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number, which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar at the right hand side of the page.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc., contact the Education Administration Office Huizinga


Not applicable.