Royal Institute of Philosophy Graduate Conference: Wittgenstein and the Idea of a Social Science

November 11, 2022 - November 12, 2022
Philosophy Department , Durham University

Durham University
United Kingdom

View the Call For Papers


Cambridge University
University of Exeter
University of Liverpool


Durham University
Durham University

Topic areas

Talks at this conference

Add a talk


On 11-12 November 2022, Durham University will host a conference sponsored by the Royal Institute of Philosophy on ‘Wittgenstein and the Idea of a Social Science’. 

This conference will explore Wittgensteinian perspectives on the philosophy of social science, in order to promote further dialogue between philosophy and the social sciences, and to build on the legacy of Peter Winch and his book The Idea of a Social Science. Key questions that conference papers are invited to address include (but are not limited to):

  • What are the philosophical presuppositions of social science, in its different forms, as it is practised today? Does social science depend on externalist conceptions of human relations, e.g. an atomistic view of human relations, or a form of reductionism such as behaviourism?

  • Should social science make a sharper distinction between causes of human behaviour and reasons for acting? What are the implications of this distinction for areas of study such as nudge theory and implicit bias? If willing is not, as Wittgenstein suggests, a kind of causality, does this limit the validity of social scientific studies of causes in behavioural patterns?

  • How might Wittgenstein’s rule-following considerations in the ‘Philosophical Investigations’ illuminate the way we ought to study regularities in human behaviour? Is Winch right to apply Wittgenstein’s concept of internal relations to social relations?

  • How do Wittgenstein’s views on community and language use relate to social concepts and recent work in social metaphysics?

  • What role can the description and clarification of psychological concepts play in the social sciences? Does the Wittgensteinian idea that psychological concepts like belief cannot be pinned down to a particular mental state, and can exist in multiple language-games, spell trouble for social scientific methodologies?

  • How does Winch’s critique, or other Wittgensteinian critiques, of social science compare with other well-known philosophical treatments of social science (e.g. Alasdair MacIntyre’s, Charles Taylor’s)? Is there a distinctively Wittgensteinian philosophy of social science?

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)

This is a student event (e.g. a graduate conference).




October 28, 2022, 12:00pm BST

Who is attending?

1 person is attending:


See all

Will you attend this event?

Let us know so we can notify you of any change of plan.

RSVPing on PhilEvents is not sufficient to register for this event.