Show Summary Details
Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts (1st edn)

Jean-Frédéric Morin, Christian Olsson, and Ece Özlem Atikcan
Page of

Printed from Oxford Politics Trove. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 08 December 2021

Determinism, Predictions, and Probabilismlocked

Determinism, Predictions, and Probabilismlocked

  • Francois Dépelteau

Abstract

This chapter addresses determinism, which has been the predominant mode of perceiving the universe in modern sciences. The basic assumption is that any event is the effect of an external cause. Generally speaking, biological determinism focuses on the biological causes of events, whereas social sciences focus on the social causes. This mode of perceiving the social universe is typically associated with positivism and, more specifically, social naturalism — or the idea that there is no significant difference between social phenomena and natural phenomena. In this logic, it is assumed that social scientists can and should discover ‘social laws’ — or universal relations of causality between a social cause and a social effect. However, determinism in the social sciences has been criticized since its very beginning. In response to these critiques, many social scientists have adopted various forms of ‘soft’ determinism. The chapter then considers social predictions and probabilism.

You do not currently have access to this chapter

Sign in

Please sign in to access the full content.

Subscribe

Access to the full content requires a subscription