Study/Discussion Questions on Watkins

Note: Watkins's claims about Weber are controversial, and I personally interpret Weber's ideal types differently than Watkins. Although we will talk about Watkins's views of Weber, the more important role that this article will play this semester is as the first sustained argument for a variety of individualism.

1. What does Watkins take ideal types to be and what are they for? Exactly what is the difference between what he calls "holistic" and "individualistic" ideal types (p. 24). Are the purposes of these two kinds of ideal types the same?

2. Why is Watkins an individualist? Exactly what is the CONTENT of his individualism (pp. 28-9)?

3. (p. 30) What are the three levels of historical explanation? Why is it important to distinguish among these levels?

4. (p. 34) What, in Watkins's view, has been the source of the most important advances in the social sciences?

5. (p. 36) What are "dispositions" and what explanatory role should they play in the social sciences? What makes some dispositions genuinely explanatory, while claiming that opium has a "dormative virtue" fails to explain why opium makes people sleepy?