What is the nature of the social sciences? What kinds of knowledge can they--and should they--hope to create? Are objective viewpoints possible and can universal laws be discovered? Questions like these have been asked with increasing urgency in recent years, as some philosophers and researchers have perceived a "crisis" in the social sciences. "Metatheory in Social Science" offers many provocative arguments and analyses of basic conceptual frameworks for the study of human behavior. These are offered primarily by practicing researchers and are related to problems in disciplines as diverse as sociology, psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, and philosophy of science.
While various points of view are expressed in these nineteen essays, they have in common several themes, including the comparison of social and natural science, the role of knowledge in meeting the demands of society and its pressing problems, and the nature and role of subjectivity in science. Some authors hold that subjectivity cannot be studied scientifically; others argue that it can and must be if progress in knowledge is to be made. The essays demonstrate the philosophical pluralism they discuss and give a wide range of alternative positions on the future of the social and behavioral sciences in a postpositivist intellectual world.