The application of the methodologies and techniques of the natural sciences to human beings is still staunchly resisted by many critics. Discuss why this is so in relation to one or more controversies within the field of psychology.
The study of the phenomena related to human behaviour and human interaction is decisively different than the study of physical phenomena by the natural sciences.
This essay will argue from a historical and philosophical perspective the claim that one must be wary of applying the methodologies and techniques of the natural sciences to human beings, and that the two must be viewed as completely separate entities and distinct practices.
The notion of applying laws of the natural sciences to humans has given rise to significant dispute and controversy in the field of philosophy. Two such controversies debated in relation to applying natural scientific laws to human subjects to be outlined in this essay are that of “free will versus determinism” and “understanding versus explanation”.
In order for the argument to be valid, one must first distinguish between the basic principles of the two sciences. The human sciences encompass the disciplines of psychology, anthropology, political science and sociology. In these human sciences, a theory is researched and applied in order to understand a unique concept of human behaviour. On the other hand in the natural experimental sciences, consisting of biology, chemistry and physics, an experiment is carried out in order to test the cause and effect of a theory or hypothesis based on features of the physical world.
The application of the methodologies and techniques of the natural sciences to human beings is strongly opposed by critics, and many argue that meaningful human phenomena studied by the human sciences do not obey natural laws in the way that physical phenomena do.
Critics do agree, however, that the human sciences should not apply a methodology wholly autonomous from that of the natural sciences, instead it is universally acknowledged that the same kind of rational thinking is applied, despite each being motivated by a difference in the nature of the phenomena, and that different phenomena must be studied using different methods.
The human sciences study meaningful human phenomena (Ingthorsson, 2013), such as social interactions, experiences, thoughts, actions and attitudes. All of these exist only through the actions and reactions of human beings, and cannot be scientifically measured or calculated. There is no such way to study the meaning of literature using a tracking device, or to understand aspects of thoughts and feelings by chemical analysis, for instance, and so the natural sciences and the humanities and social sciences have developed as separate entities, insulated spaces each with their own exclusive focus and methods.
While certain disciplines of the natural sciences, such as medicine and biology study conscious human beings, the depth is merely to a...