The Explanation of Social Action

The Explanation of Social Action

John Levi Martin

Print publication date: 2012

ISBN: 9780199773312

Publisher: Oxford University Press


The social sciences have increasingly placed all their bets on a notion of explanation that turns on linking abstractions through causal relations. This explanatory vocabulary is, if analysts deem it necessary, set against that developed by actors, and we justify this by pointing to everyday people’s limited abilities to survive destructive interrogation of their motives. We are wronger than they; it is possible to produce a rigorous social science that systematizes and organizes actors’ experiences as opposed to negating them. Such an approach would partake of the formal characteristics of an aesthetics, and this book attempts to make a sustained plausibility argument for such a social aesthetics.