Weber's Ideal Types and Idealization
Max Weber's "ideal types" (ITs) have long drawn the attention of philosophers of science. Proponents of the Poznań School have formulated at least two different methodological reconstructions of Weber's conception. One, by Izabella Nowakowa, views ITs as extreme elements of classifications and argues that the procedure employed in constructing ITs is but a special case of the method of idealization. Another, by Leszek Nowak, explicates ideal-typical statements as analytic statements which perform explanatory or heuristic functions. In this paper, I assess these reconstructions and confront them with Weber's original writings. I show that both are inadequate and propose a new one, based on a revised account of abstraction and idealization. I argue that the heuristic function of ITs, as discussed by Weber, consists in their role in formulating contrastive explanations.
keywords: Max Weber, ideal type, abstraction, idealization, the Poznań School
"Filozofia Nauki" 2016/1
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