Miad Ranjbar

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The aim of this paper is to discuss the tenets of the philosophy of Peter Winch, a Wittgensteinian philosopher, and the relevance of his work to conducting qualitative social research. In this paper, Peter Winch’s philosophy which is elaborately presented in his book The Idea of Social Science and its Relation to Philosophy is first extrapolated and examined. I then discuss how his philosophical reasoning can substitute for the philosophical underpinnings of constructivism, critical realism, and pragmatism as qualitative social research paradigms. In this paper, it is argued that the history of empirical social studies has been prone to important conceptual confusions both when researchers dwelled on the principles of positivistic and post-positivistic structure of the social scientific methodology, but more importantly, upon and after the emergence of qualitative sociology. Although the claim to the understanding of social behaviour as opposed to explaining it has been declared as the hallmark of qualitative methods, the philosophical arguments pertaining to intelligibility and rationality have been hugely omitted in discussing what it means to understand social action. According to Peter Winch and other supporters of the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein, it is the attending to such notions that makes it possible to give a true account of the nature of social phenomena in general (Winch, 2008, p.41)