Category Archives: Critical Realism

Critical Realism and Health

This is an adaption of a piece I wrote for Bill Cockerham’s Encyclopaedia of Medical Sociology a while ago. It stands alone but I hope it also complements other blogs I have written on critical realism’s range and merits. Since I first wrote it: (a) sadly (he was a lovely as well as talented man)… Read More »

John Goldthorpe and Critical Realism

I have always been an admirer of the subtle, no-nonsense Weberian sociology of John Goldthorpe. Now he has written a volume on sociology ‘as a population science’ that leads me to reflect on the apparently narrowing gap between his notion of sociology and that promulgated by critical realists like me. He would, I suspect, be… Read More »

Roy Bhaskar, 1944-2014

By chance I came across Roy Bhaskar’s A Realist theory of Science soon after Harvester Wheatsheaf added it to their list in 1978. Unlike some others of those who sampled it early I found it rigorous and clear. If Roy’s terminology was demanding, (a) his innovative analysis and style justified a certain dexterity and inventiveness,… Read More »

Dialectical Critical Realism: 4 – Bhaskar’s Four Planar Theory

I have come to the fourth of an indefinite series of blogs on Roy Bhaskar’s dialectical critical realism. You could open a book on how many more might follow. This effort dips deeper into Bhaskar’s attempts to resolve or, in his words, to ‘generalize, dialecticise and substantialise the transformational model of social action’. He wants… Read More »

Dialectical Critical Realism: 3 – Underwriting Marx

In this third blog on dialectical critical realism I return to Bhaskar’s writings on Marx, once more drawing liberally on Creaven and to a lesser extent Norrie. Bhaskar agrees with much of what Marx has to say about Hegel. Crucially, Marx’s materialist dialectics, unlike Hegel’s idealistic dialectics, does not dissolve objective dialectical contradictions into subjective… Read More »

Dialectical Critical Realism: 2 – Bhaskar’s Materialist Dialectics

This second blog on dialectical realism offers a summary of Bhaskar’s materialist dialectics. This, he claims, supercedes Hegel’s earlier idealist efforts. I draw here on Bhaskar, Creaven and Norrie, as in the previous post. First some guidelines, following Creaven. Bhaskar will have no truck with the triadic process of negation generally associated with Hegel (thesis-antithesis-synthesis).… Read More »

Dialectical Critical Realism: 1 – Getting Past Hegel

I have in earlier blogs introduced Bhaskar’s basic critical realism, going on to suggest it offers a way of coming to terms with interdisciplinarity. There are any number of commentators who find basic critical realism helpful. Some of these retain their enthusiasm for Bhaskar’s original philosophical excursions through to his dialectical critical realism. Others fall… Read More »

Beyond the ‘Is/Ought’ Dichotomy?

There is something seductive and captivating about Hume’s insistence that it is not logically possible to infer what ought to be the case from any amount of evidence on what is the case. Do those who dismiss his argument have axes to grind? Are they wishful thinkers who have personal convictions or philosophies to promote?… Read More »

Archer and The Vulnerable Fractured Reflexive

In this fourth blog on Archer’s work on reflexivity I posit an ideal type of the vulnerable fractured reflexive. While the focused autonomous reflexive and the dedicated meta-reflexive characterize significant players around the contestable nature, ownership and use and abuse of wealth and power, the vulnerable fractured reflexive is more accurately portrayed as a non-player.… Read More »

Archer and The Dedicated Meta-Reflexive

  In this third blog in the series I offer a characterisation of another key set of players in the substantive area of health inequalities, those who stand up against or resist the ‘greedy bastards’. The greedy bastards here comprise a cabal at the core of the capitalist executive class (CCE) supported by the state’s… Read More »