“Explaining Social Behavior” Explanation Jon Elster
Explanation: General• Main task of social science is to explain social phenomena• Event-event pattern of explanation• Fact-event, event-fact, and fact-fact explanation• Nonevents – Kitty Genovese case
The Structure of Explanations• First; is fact a fact or did the event actually take place?• Puzzles – Explanatory puzzles should be addressed in the five-step sequence. This is called the hypothetico- deductive method
hypothetico-deductive method:1. Choose the theory2. Specify a hypothesis3. Identify plausible accounts that might provide alternative explanations4. For each rival accounts, refute it by pointing to additional testable (not observed) implications5. Strengthen the proposed hypothesis by showing testable (observed) implications
Broadway shows exampleWhy do more Broadway shows receivestanding ovations today than twenty yearsago?
Statement should be distinguished from casual explanation1. True casual statements. Ex: food poisoning2. Statements about correlations. Ex: Alexis de Tocqueville about marriage for love – Direction of causality is also important3. Statements about necessitation4. Statements about storytelling5. Statistical explanations6. Answers to “why questions”7. Predictions