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The Ant Trap: Rebuilding the Foundations of the Social Sciences

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  18 ratings  ·  5 reviews
We live in a world of crowds and corporations, artworks and artifacts, legislatures and languages, money and markets. These are all social objects - they are made, at least in part, by people and by communities. But what exactly are these things? How are they made, and what is the role of people in making them?

In The Ant Trap, Brian Epstein rewrites our understanding of
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Hardcover, 312 pages
Published April 1st 2015 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 21st 2015)
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Nat
Dec 08, 2018 added it
Before reading this, I thought that having the right metaphysics of the facts some science is concerned with would be nice, but not really essential--you can do the science successfully with all kinds of different metaphysical views. For example, the science I'm most interested in is linguistics. I didn't particularly care whether internalism or externalism about meaning facts was true--you could just investigate meaning experimentally in the way that is done in semantics and pragmatics, and ...more
Bernhard Nickel
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a really nice book. The exposition of the central theories is great, sympathetic and insightful. The metaphysical structure Epstein erects is great. The one question I'm left with is: do our models in the social sciences really suffer because of a bad ontology? There are some references to other work re: applications of Epstein's improved ontology at the very end, so that's the next place to look.
Caleb
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Ant Trap is incredibly ambitious and rewarding. Though there is really too much packed into this book of just under 300 pages to give an adequate review, a simple example will explain the upshot of the book. Recently, a man moved to Washington, D.C., taking up residence on Pennsylvania Avenue. When he signs his name to certain pieces of paper it seems to make a difference to what many other people do. What makes it the case that this man is the president of the United States? Epstein answers ...more
Wilbur Townsend
Didn't finish. He seems to view social science as more ontological than any of the social science I engage with. Probably because I'm a dirty pomo.
Mills College Library
300 E645 2015
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