My most recent post in philosophy of economics unexpectedly led to a number of requests for syllaby suggestions in the philosophy of social science. I have not taught that course since 2005 (when I left WashU, St. Louis). Sadly, my old syllabi are not online anymore. Now, my choice of topic/approach is always a function of my sense of the quality and skills/backgrounds of the students (philosophy or social sci majors, etc) , the level taught, as well as my personal aims for the class (what do I want to learn about; do I want to teach writing or methodological skills), etc. So, please take what follows as ideosyncratic. I have often used then recently popular books (Nickle and Dimed, The Bell Curve, Freakonomics, The Tipping Point, etc) and supplemented these with philosophical and critical material and classic methodological works by Max Weber, Milton Friedman, Jon Elster, Donald Winch, Geertz, and Elinor Ostrom. I have used Brian Fay's textbook, which I liked a lot, but I bet it is probably getting dated. There are two readers (one edited by Delanty&Strydom and the other by Martin/McIntyre) that give a good sense of classic topics and recent developments about two decades ago (the same can be said of Stephen Turner's Blackwell Companion). I would recommend that students follow a bunch of blogs (which give a very good idea of ongoing debates in science in practice): Retraction watch, Marginal Revolution, Economic Principles, Crooked Timer (especially anything by Quiggin), Brad de Long, [Schliesser on NewAPPS?], etc. Anyway, here are some topics that I would certainly cover (and that seem underserved by existing readers):
- Bayesianism, pro and con: on the con side I would assign this classic paper by John Norton; on the pro side, there is Bayes' original essay; also would check out papers by Earman (say his anti-Hume stuff) or Hartmann.
- The dangers of Statistical Testing: Deirdre McCloskey On the Cult of Statistical Significance.
- Simulation/Agent-based modeling: this is a decent intro, then I would check out work by Eric Winsberg, Wendy Parter, etc
- The difference between behavioral and experimental economics: Floris Heukelom and Francesco Guala have done great work on this.
- Wellbeing research: check out work by Anna Alexandrova, Erik Angner, Dan Haybron, etc.
- Expert overconfidence: Erik Angner, Sandra Peart & David Levy.
- Cultural Evolution: Boyd & Richerson; Wimsatt has a great piece.
- Evidential reasoning: Alison Wylie's classic (feminist) piece
- Moral Responsibility of Scientists: Heather Douglas
- Reflexivity: hmm...Schliesser?
There is also quite a bit of good work on social ontology, modeling, causation, model-selection, economic imperialism (game theory), etc. Do readers have suggestions for topics, readers? Do they want to share their syllabi? Self-nominations welcome (but those should be signed).