Social Sciences Stream

The Social Sciences and the Christian World View (Friday)

Trust (Saturday)

Friday 16 (all day) and Saturday 17 March 2018 (morning through lunchtime)

Senior convener: Donald Hay (Economics, Jesus College)

Student co-conveners: Jieun Baek (Public Policy), Yi He (Politics)

What does it mean to be human?  How should societies be structured? How should we situate our Christian worldview within a pluralistic society?

How can postgraduates, postdocs, and academics at the University of Oxford approach philosophy and theology as Christians? What does it mean to respond to a Christian vocation and to honour God in university life?

The Social Sciences Stream is one of five disciplinary streams that make up Seeking Wisdom, the spring conference of Developing a Christian Mind. It includes law, business, and all other subjects in the University of Oxford Social Sciences Division. Past attendees are encouraged to come, listen to new talks, and take part in discussion with new attendees.

 

Friday March 16th

The Social Sciences and the Christian World View

Three sessions with break out groups to discuss the issues

9:00 am Registration begins at New College

Three sessions with break out groups to discuss the issues

9:30 am Social scientific and Christian understandings of human beings in society (Donald Hay, Jesus College)

Comparing and contrasting Christian anthropology with evolutionary psychology, rational choice theory, and social theory

11:00 am Coffee & tea

11.30 am Social ethics in the social sciences: theological and secular approaches (Tom Simpson, Blavatnik School and Wadham)

In this session we explore the broad issue of how society should be structured. By the ‘structure of society’ is meant those laws and policies that govern how people interact with each other. The task of social science is avowedly descriptive, aiming to identify and understand how people interact. But it seldom stops there; accurate description is a precursor to intervention and change, through such policies. We address three questions. First, in what way does the practice of social science have implicit commitments about the way society should be structured? Second, is there a Christian view on how society should be structured, and if so, what is it? Third, what are the dominant secular proposals about how society should be structured, and what should a Christian make of them?

1:00 pm Lunch at New College

2:00 pm  Religion, politics, and pluralism (Paul Billingham, Christ Church, and Steven Firmin, Lady Margaret Hall)

The session will be focused around two central themes, respect and integrity:

  1. How do we show respect to our fellow citizens and colleagues in a pluralistic context, particularly when those citizens share different moral and religious commitments?
  2. How do we maintain our theological integrity while also seeking to live peacefully with diverse citizens? 

The session will be structured around two talks, Rawlsian public reason and Religious responses.

3:45 pm Coffee & tea

4:15 pm The challenges of graduate study in the social sciences

Four current DPhil students reflect on their experiences as researchers in diverse areas of the Social Sciences: Samuel Bruce (Politics and International Relations), Yeajin Yoon (Public Policy), Luna Wang (Sociology), and Jieun Baek (Public Policy) who will moderate the discussion.

 

The following events are at New College, joint with all streams.

5:30 pm Prayer

6:00 pm Drinks

6:45 pm Dinner at New College

 

Saturday March 17th

Trust

The programme for the whole morning is a round table on aspects of Trust in the Social Sciences, chaired by Timothy Endicott (former Dean of the Law School). Those contributing will be Nigel Biggar (Theology), Grant Blank (Oxford Internet Institute), Ewan McKendrick (Law), Tom Simpson (Philosophy and Public Policy), and Stuart White (Politics).

9:00 am Registration begins at New College

10:30 am Coffee & tea break

1:00 pm Lunch at New College

Social scientists to sit together to continue the discussion over lunch

 

 

 

Reading Suggestions

 

Christian and social scientific understandings of human beings in society

 

C. BEED, C. BEED (1999), ‘A Christian perspective on neoclassical choice theory’, International Journal of Social Economics, 26, no 4, 501-520

A. BIELER (French original 1961, English translation 2005), Calvin’s Economic and Social Thought, WCC, Geneva, Switzerland, Chapter III sections 1-3

D. M. BUSS (1999), Evolutionary Psychology, Allyn and Bacon, Boston

J. ELSTER (1985), ‘The nature and scope of rational choice explanations’ in E. LePORE, B. MCLAUGLIN eds. Actions and Events, Oxford, Basil Blackwell.

S.T.EMLEN (1995), ‘An evolutionary theory of the family’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 92(18), 8092-9

R. H. FRANK (1988), Passions within Reasons: the strategic role of the emotions, WWNorton, New York.

D. GREEN, I. SHAPIRO (1994), Pathologies of Rational Choice Theory, Yale University Press

R. GIBBONS (1997), ‘An introduction to applicable game theory’, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 11, no 1, 127-149

I. HACKING (1999), The Social Construction of What?, Harvard UP

R. LAYARD (2006), Happiness: lessons from a new science, Penguin, London, 2006

S. PINKER (2002), The Blank Slate: the modern denial of human nature, Allen Lane, London

A. K. SEN (1976-7), ‘Rational fools: a critique of the behavioural foundations of economic theory’, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 6, 317-344

C. SMITH (2003), Moral, Believing Animals, OUP

C. SMITH (2010), What is a person?, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, Chapter1

R. TRIGG  (1999), Ideas of Human Nature: an historical introduction, Blackwells, Oxford

E. O. WILSON (1999), Consilience, Abacus Books, London

 

[A written up version of the lecture is available on the DCM website at http://www.oxfordchristianmind.org/resources/articles/

 Donald Hay, What does it mean to be human? Christian and social scientific understandings of human beings in society.]

 

Christian theological traditions and political life

R. BAUCKHAM, The Bible in Politics (2nd ed., SPCK, 2010)

R. BENNE, "Christians and Government" in G. Meilaender and W. Werpehowski, eds, The Oxford Handbook of Theological Ethics (OUP, 2005).

N. BIGGAR, Behaving in Public: How to Do Christian Ethics (Eerdmans, 2011).

N. BIGGAR & L. HOGAN (eds), Religious Voices in Public Places (OUP, 2009)

L. BRETHERTON, Christianity and Contemporary Politics: The Conditions and Possibilities of Faithful Witness (Wiley Blackwell, 2009)

L. BRETHERTON, Resurrecting Democracy: Faith, Citizenship, and the Politics of a Common Life (CUP, 2015).

J. BURNSIDE, God, Justice and Society, OUP, Oxford, 2011

J. CHAPLIN, "Government", in The New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology, ed. D.J. Atkinson and David Field, London: IVP, 1995.

J. CHAPLIN, Talking God: The Legitimacy of Religious Public Reasoning (Theos, 2008, accessible free at http://www.theosthinktank.co.uk/)

D. FERGUSSON, Church, State and Civil Society (CUP, 2005)

G. FORSTER, The Contested Public Square: The Crisis of Christianity and Politics (IVP, 2008).

D. KOYZIS, Political Visions & Illusions: A Survey and Christian Critique of Contemporary Ideologies (IVP, 2003)

C. MATHEWES, A Theology of Public Life (CUP, 2008)

A. MCGRATH (ed), Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought (Blackwell, 1995), articles on ‘Kingdom of God: Political and Social Theology’ (R. Preston), ‘Social Questions’ (D. Forrester), and ‘War and Peace’ (O’Donovan)

O.M.T. O’DONOVAN, The Desire of the Nations (CUP, 1996)

O.M.T. O’DONOVAN, The Ways of Judgment (Eerdmans, 2005)

O.M.T. & J.L. O’DONOVAN (eds), From Irenaeus to Grotius: A Sourcebook in Christian Political Thought  (Eerdmans, 1999).

N. SPENCER & J. CHAPLIN (eds), God & Government (SPCK, 2009)

J. WITTE JR. & F.S. ALEXANDER (eds), The Teachings of Modern Roman Catholicism on Law, Politics, and Human Nature (Columbia University Press, 2007)

J. WITTE JR. & F.S. ALEXANDER (eds), The Teachings of Modern Protestantism on Law, Politics, and Human Nature (Columbia University Press, 2007)

N. WOLTERSTORFF, The Mighty and the Almighty: An Essay in Political Theology (CUP, 2012)

 

Social ethics: theological and secular approaches, and the basis for social and economic policy

S. ALKIRE (2002), Valuing Freedoms. Sen’s capability approach and poverty reduction, OUP, New York and Oxford

J. ATHERTON (1994), Social Christianity: a reader, SPCK, London

BENEDICT  XVI (2009), Caritas in Veritate: on integral human development in charity and truth (Papal Encyclical)

A. BIELER (French original 1961, English translation 2005), Calvin’s Economic and Social Thought, WCC, Geneva, Switzerland, Chapter IV sections 1-3, and Chapter V

T. BURCHARDT (2007), ‘Welfare: what for?’, chapter 3 in J. HILLS, J. LE GRAND, D. PIACHAUD, Making Social Policy Work, Policy Press, University of Bristol.

C. E. CURRAN (2002), Catholic Social Teaching: 1891 to the present, Georgetown University Press

J. FINNIS (1981) Natural Law and Natural Rights

A. HARTROPP (2007), What is Economic Justice? Biblical and secular perspectives contrasted, Paternoster Theological Monographs, Milton Keynes and Colorado Springs.

D. A. HAY (1989), Economics Today: a Christian critique, Apollos, IVP, Leicester (especially chapter 3, section 2; and chapter 4, section 4)

D. HOLLENBACH (2002), The Common Good and Christian Ethics Cambridge.

PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE (2005), Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington DC

PAUL VI AND THE SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL (1965), Gaudium et Spes: Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Catholic Truth Society, London

A.K.SEN (2009), The idea of justice, Allen Lane, London

A.K.SEN, B. WILLIAMS (1982) Utilitarianism and beyond, CUP, Cambridge

C. SMITH (2010), What is a person?, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, Chapters 7, 8

WILLIAM TEMPLE (1942), Christianity and Social Order, Penguin (reissued in 1976 by SPCK and other publishers)

C.J.H. WRIGHT (2004) Old Testament Ethics for the People of God, IVP, Leicester (especially Part One)

 

[A written up version of a lecture on this topic is available on the DCM website: http://www.oxfordchristianmind.org/resources/articles/

Donald Hay, Social and economic ethics and the basis for public policy]

 

[No session in 2018, so for reference only]

Epistemology, science and hermeneutics in the social sciences: how do you do ‘good’ social science?

C. BEED, C. BEED (2006), Alternatives to Economics: Christian Socio Economic Perspectives, University Press of America, Lanham, Maryland (to be read very selectively, especially chapters 9, 10, 11, 13)

S. DOW (2002), Economic methodology: an inquiry, OUP, Oxford, especially chapters 3-6

D. A. HAY (1989), Economics Today: a Christian critique, Apollos, IVP, Leicester (Chapter 3, section 1, and references)

F. A. HAYEK (1967), ‘The theory of complex phenomena’, in Studies in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of Chicago Press, pp 22-48

H. KINCAID (1990), ‘Defending laws in the social sciences’, Philosophy of Social Science, vol 20, pp 56-83. [For a fuller account of his views, see H. KINCAID(1996), Philosophical Foundations of Social Science, CUP, Cambridge]

A. MACINTYRE (1981), After Virtue: a study in moral theory, Duckworth, London (chapters 7, 8)

L. McINTYRE (1993), ‘Complexity and social scientific laws’, Sythese, vol 97.  [For a fuller account of his views, see L. McINTYRE (1996), Laws and Explanation in the Social Sciences: defending a science of human behaviour, Westview, Boulder, Colorado]

C. SMITH (2010), What is a person?, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, Chapters 3-7

[For a wide selection of classic readings in philosophy of social science, see M. MARTIN, L. McINTYRE (1994) eds., Readings in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences, MIT Press]

 

[A very preliminary written up version of a DCM lecture on this topic is available on the DCM website: Donald Hay, Epistemology and methodology in the social sciences]