Today the ethical and normative concerns of everyday citizens are all too often sidelined from the study of political and social issues, driven out by an effort to create a more “scientific” study. This book offers a way for social scientists and political theorists to reintegrate the empirical and the normative, proposing a way out of the scientism that clouds our age. In Alasdair MacIntyre, Charles Taylor, and the Demise of Naturalism, Jason Blakely argues that the resources for overcoming this divide are found in the respective intellectual developments of Charles Taylor and Alasdair MacIntyre. Blakely examines their often parallel intellectual journeys, which led them to critically engage the British New Left, analytic philosophy, phenomenology, continental hermeneutics, and modern social science.
Although MacIntyre and Taylor are not sui generis, Blakely claims they each present a new, revived humanism, one that insists on the creative agency of the human person against reductive, instrumental, technocratic, and scientistic ways of thinking. The recovery of certain key themes in these philosophers’ works generates a new political philosophy with which to face certain unprecedented problems of our age. Taylor’s and MacIntyre’s philosophies give social scientists working in all disciplines (from economics and sociology to political science and psychology) an alternative theoretical framework for conducting research.
“This book does an excellent job in identifying a real problem in mainstream political theory—its overly normative character and its separation from social science. It contains many original contributions to the field. I particularly liked the way in which the problems of naturalism are presented as institutional, cultural, and political as well as philosophical. The historical background to these problems is also interesting and sheds fresh light on the issues.” — Nicholas Smith, Macquarie University
“Although a number of other scholars have at least considered writing on this subject over the past decade and more, I am not aware of any book-length treatment of it or of any treatment that is so well informed of so well judged. Jason Blakely’s account might well prove definitive.” — Kelvin Knight, London Metropolitan University
“Jason Blakely skillfully uses the writings of Alasdair MacIntyre and Charles Taylor as his interpretive lens for observing how the naturalist /antinaturalist debate develops in the philosophy of the social sciences over the second half of the twentieth century. Blakely does this, moreover, with great clarity and economy. His book thus offers a philosophical and historical perspective on an important debate that is both intellectually substantive and highly readable.” — Paul A. Roth, University of California-Santa Cruz