science uses experiments+observation to test theor
science uses experiments+observation to test theories
- Science collects data through experiments, observation and measurment in order to test hypothesis
- Science values objectivity(unbiased view). Scientific statements are based on evidence collected using systematic, logical methods.
different philosophies of science
Logical Positivists - scientists search for scientific laws
- researcher observes something and decides it needs to be explained
- researcher creates hypothesis to explain thenomenon
- hypothesis tested by experiments
- if experiment agrees with hypothesis then scientific law created
Popper(1959,63) - experiments should try to prove hypothesis wrong - falsification
- you can't ever prove a hypothesis correct, but you can prove it wrong with just one piece of contradictory evidence
- it wasn't possible to know absolute truth, because you can't prove things are correct
Thomas Khun(1962) - disagreed with logical positivists and Popper
- science uses an accepted body of knowledge to solve puzzles. "normal science"
- scientists took a lot of assumptions about the world for granted. Assumed way of looking at the world is a "paradigm". Scientists are constrained by the paradigm they take for granted
- big leaps in science come about when evidence which doesn't fit the paradigm builds up to where it can't be ignored. Then new paradigm invented. Scientific revolution(Higgs Boson)
- Paul Feyeraband(1975) - there aren't any hard and fast rules of scientific method. Scientists "tweak" their methods to make them work. Already accepted theories influence the ways scientists actually observe facts.
is sociology scientific?
- Auguste Comte(1798-1857) founding father, said sociology is a science. Sociology should be used to develop a rational theory of society.
- Popper said some sociological concepts weren't scientific as they couldn't be proven wrong. Sociology is only a science if hypothesis could be falsified
- Kuhn - Sociology doesn't have a paradigm - no consensus about what it is and how it's done. it isn't a science.
Sociology more subjective than traditional science
- objective knowledge is the same no matter what your p.o.v. Objective methods provide facts that can be verified or falsified. Objective research is value free.
- Subjective knowledge - depends on your p.o.v. Subjective methods give data that can't be easily tested. Subjective research requires interpretation
- Sociology is more subjective than natural sciences
- Lyotard(1984) - It's impossible to be objective at all
- Lyotard - knowledge is something people construct, not something discovered
positivist sociology - as objective as possible
- Positivists think sociology should be scientific and analyse facts. Social facts = things that can be directly observed and measured. Social facts are external, and constrain behaviour
- Look for correlations in data, and cause and effect relationships. They used quantitative methods like questionnaires and official statistics, which are objective and reliable.
- Interpretivist sociologists(interactionists) say sociology doesn't suit scientific methods. Try to understand behaviour from p.o.v of individual, using methods that discover meanings, motives, and reasons behind behaviour.
- Weber said it's important to use empathy to figure out why an individual is doing what they are doing. Called this "verstehen"
can research be value free?
- value free research = no judgements about good/bad
- researcher's own beliefs are not allowed to get in the way. No leading questions etc.
- for value freedom to work, researcher must interpret all data objectively
- end use of research shouldn't matter. Research should provide knowledge, how it is used shouldn't worry the researcher
- Positivists -Quantitative methods more value free than qualitative
- Qualitative methods mean researcher more involved, more risk of attitudes and feeling will influence respondents
- Quantitative methods allow rsearcher less opportunity to influence + allow researcher to keep distance
- Sociology can't be value free
- decision to research is value-laden. Research for state or business most likely to get funding.
- difficult to avoid bias
- Fems + Marx deliberately choose research which has an end-use they approve of. Sociology should make value judgements and suggest ways it could be better