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Erklären, Verstehen and Simulation: Reconsidering the Role of Empathy in the Social Sciences

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A basic naturalistic epistemological intuition that Theo Kuipers and I share is the idea that the differences between the natural and the social sciences do not stand in the way of co-operative, integrative, and perhaps even reductive relations between them. In several papers I have offered a teleofunctional argument against interpretationalist autonomy claims and Kuipers (2001), Chapter 6 seems to favor this type of rebuttal. However, within the last 15 years or so, there has been a revival of another kind of "verstehende," or rather "einfühlende," approach, which differs in some significant respects from the interpretationalist view. In this paper I investigate whether this so-called simulation theory might cause trouble for our naturalistic view of the relation between the natural and the social sciences.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2005


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