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Compare And Contrast The Natural And Social Sciences In Their Philosophy And Approach To Research

1072 words - 5 pages

The natural sciences aim has been to establish universal laws , of cause and effect , in order to replicate and generalise scientific arguments. Laws of physics , mathematics and chemistry look for logical, verifiable knowledge of the natural and physical world , in an attempt to translate it into applicable models and systems of valid and recognised 'stock' of facts and data. It has been the purpose of the natural sciences to produce scientific statements, following an objective , value-free observation of facts and through deduction , formulation of hypotheses and testing the scientific validity of the same, to measure and quantify evidence.
In contrast , the social sciences such as sociology, history , anthropology seek to explain and interpret human behaviour , its actions and meanings attributed to these in the social world in order to produce normative statements, that translate , ideas and meanings constructed by the human being in a social contextual, reality. (Alan Bryman , 2008).
The debate of the applicability of the natural sciences, philosophy and approach, to research by the social sciences has its roots in a traditional dispute by the positivist school of thought in contrast to the interpretivist one, that emerged as an alternative and as an opposing standing by various social researchers. It is pertinent to explore and identify the similarities and differences between the natural and the social sciences, in their philosophy and approach to research in order to bring to light the key issues underlying in this theoretical contradiction.

The scientific model of the natural sciences is firstly introduced to the social sciences in the 19th century in an historical context of the Enlightenment movement, that emphasized the rational and logical attainment of knowledge , opposing to the traditional explanations rooted in religion or the supernatural. .”The French writer, Auguste Comte (1798-1857) ,was the first person to use the word “sociology” and he also coined the term “positive philosophy” ( Comte, 1968, first published in the 1840s)”, as Haralambos ,Holborn,Chapman and Moore have stated (2013, p.879) in the above quotation.
Positivism, as a theory, assumes the social world to be external to the observer who must adopt an independent position , intends to gather evidence, facts, and following the model of the natural sciences using an inductive approach where theory guides the research process, formulating hypotheses , empirically analysing the findings in order to corroborate the theory that initiated the questions subjected to research and in the same way that scientific statements have been produced as universal laws , the same was argued by Comte can be applied to human behaviour.
The applicability of the scientific method of the natural sciences was pursued by Emile Durkheim (1858-1917) also known as a positivist sociologist in his approach to research like Comte, his “classic study , Suicide (1970, first...

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