Workshop – Idealism and Realism in the Human Sciences; Collingwood, Winch and Beyond

Centre of Ethics, the University of Pardubice

Old University Building, Room 01 033 (ground floor), 10.00-16.00, 22 –23 September 2022

Attendance: free. Be there or preferably contact  


R.G. Collingwood and Peter Winch were central contributors to the debate on the question of the autonomy of the human sciences (social sciences and the humanities) in the mid- 20th century. Other participants in that debate were Donald Davidson, Charles Taylor and G.H. von Wright. According to von Wright's formulation, the aim of the human sciences was "understanding" rather than "explanation", whereas Davidson argued, on the contrary, that explanation of action in terms of reasons must, in the last analysis, presuppose that reasons have causal efficacy. The debate was not resolved, one reason being the general philosophical shift in the late 20th century. Due to that shift, ontology again entered mainstream analytical philosophy as a topic. With this development, naturalism and scientific realism gained currency as the philosophical paradigm in English-speaking philosophy. In the light of that development, it became customary to view Collingwood and Winch as idealists and/or relativists. The aim of the workshop is to explore connections between views on the epistemological status of the human sciences and general underlying issues on the nature of philosophical research. 


Want to present? Contact Topics might also include general political philosophy, philosophy of the human and social sciences, philosophy of science, Idealism, Realism, Wittgenstein. 




Thursday 22 September, Room 01 033

10.00 Opening – Olli Lagerspetz

10.15 – 11.45 Leonidas Tsilipakos: Winch, Collingwood and the promise of a new form of understanding

11-45 –14.00 Lunch

14.00 – 15.30 Jonas Ahlskog: The Metaphilosophy of Action Explanation: von Wright on understanding efficacious reasons


Friday 23 September, Room 01 133

10.00 – 11.30 Giuseppina D’Oro: Philosophy as tangle teezing: beyond the realism/idealism debate

11.30 –13.00 Lunch

13.00 – 14.30 Olli Lagerspetz: Winch and Collingwood on Logic: Points of Connection in the Light of Published and Unpublished Material



Confirmed Participants:


Jonas Ahlskog is Docent and postdoctoral researcher in Philosophy and History of Ideas at the Department of Philosophy and the Centre of Minority Studies at Åbo Akademi University. He is the author of The Primacy of Method in Historical Research. Philosophy of History and the Perspective of Meaning (Routledge, 2021). He is currently working on metaphilosophical points of connection between Collingwood, von Wright and Winch.   

Giuseppina D'Oro is Reader in Philosophy at Keele University. She is interested in the metaphilosophical assumptions behind explanatory pluralism. Her research examines Collingwood's argument against scientism and how his conception of presuppositional analysis informs his defence of the autonomy of the human sciences.

Olli Lagerspetz a Docent and Senior Lecturer of Philosophy at Åbo Akademi University, and currently of the University of Pardubice (EU Horizon 2020 Research Programme, Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 101026669, WC-Cult). He has, i.a., published on the philosophy of Peter Winch, on Wittgenstein and on the early history of social anthropology.    

Leonidas Tsilipakos is a lecturer in sociology at the University of Bristol, UK. He has written on the logical, methodological, and ethical implications of Peter Winch's thought for sociology and history. He has published work in journals such as Philosophy of the Social Sciences, Nordic Wittgenstein Review and History of the Human Sciences. He has systematically explored Wittgensteinian and ordinary language philosophy traditions in relation to social theoretical reason in his monograph Clarity and Confusion in Social Theory: Taking Concepts Seriously (Routledge).