Topic 2. The Peculiarities of Scientific Cognition in the Social Sciences
1. Classification of sciences
2. Natural vs. social sciences
3. Economics as a social science. Positive and normative economics.
1. Classification of the sciences
Questions about the unity or disunity of the sciences, kinds of mutual relations and their organization are classical philosophical problems.
Classification of sciences is a systematic arrangement of the various branches of knowledge in order to fix their definitions, determine their boundaries, bring to light their interrelations, and ascertain how much of the task of science has been accomplished and what remains to be done. The value of such a classification depends not merely on the encyclopaedic or didactic uses to which a survey of the sciences may be put, but also on its utility as an instrument of intellectual progress.
Among the most celebrated classifications of sciences proposed in modern times have been those suggested by Bacon, Comte, Dilthey, Windelband, Spencer and others.
It was not until the time of the Renaissance, more specifically, the end of the Renaissance, that a system of classification appeared. It was the system proposed by Francis Bacon (1561 ?1626), an English philosopher, in his work on the worth and advancement of the sciences (Dedignitate et augmentis scientiarum). The author applied psychological criteria, namely, Memory, Imagination, and Reason: history is constructed by memory, and may be either Civil History or Natural History; poetry flows from the fancy or imagination, and may be narrative, dramatic, or parabolic; finally, philosophy, which results from the use of reason, is divided into the sciences of the divine, of nature, and of man.
From the eighteenth century on, most philosophers and scientists who dealt with classification of sciences divided them into two fundamental kinds: sciences of nature and sciences of the mind.
Towards the middle of the nineteenth century there appeared the system of Auguste Comte (1798-1857), a French philosopher. He arranged the sciences according to the decreasing simplicity and generality of the phenomena to which they relate in the following order of dependence: mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry, physiology or biology (of which psychology is a branch), and sociology. This, in Comte's view, is also the order in which the sciences have developed historically, in which the subject matter of the various sciences has been evolved.
Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) denies the possibility of arranging the sciences in serial order to represent either their logical or their historical dependence, and substitutes for the Comtean 'hierarchy' a classification of his own. Spencer started from the assumption that all knowledge varies with the object, and he classified the sciences according to their degree of abstraction in relation to the object. Using the terms abstract and concrete, he makes three principal divisions: the abstract sciences,...