Human sciences final

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Human sciences final

  1. 1. Human Sciences TOK
  2. 2. Natural Sciences Possible headings ● Research methods ● Focus of study ● Applications ● Degrees of certainty ● AOKs sub-headings Human Sciences History What do the Human Sciences, History and the Natural Sciences have in common? How are they different?
  3. 3. How are the Human Sciences related to History and the Natural Sciences? ● ● ● ● Unlike History the Human Sciences seek to make generalizations from observing human beings (both as individuals and in groups) Human Scientists look to account for trends in social and economic activity, they look for common and different patterns across the range of human cultures. In looking for correlations and causes they are guided by prominent models and theories (like natural sciences). Historians try to identify the causes of particular events and apply this understanding to the present. Human Sciences approach the world similarly, but are able to repeat their observations to check ideas and hypotheses.
  4. 4. Complexity, challenges and the Natural Sciences? Some of the challenges and weaknesses of ascertaining certainty and truth within the natural Sciences ● ● ● ● ● ● ● Societies and individuals change over time and are not static; Societies and individuals are formed by their environment, culture and geography (the degree to which this is the case is still up for debate); The interconnections and causal variables in society are many and complex - trying to define objective and reliable truths is difficult because of this; You can not observe how people think; People react to being observed and so it is hard to obtain clean data / empirical truth; read Handout on The Hawthorne Effect and consider the questions Human Scientists have their own biases, personal history, cultural backgrounds and schemas which all affect how they see others; The ethical responsibilities of Human Science researchers.
  5. 5. Can you be neutral like Dr. Xargle? Dr. Xargle is an alien who studies human behaviour and has the ability to be very objective
  6. 6. Can you be neutral like Dr. Xargle? Dr. Xargle is an alien who studies human behaviour and has the ability to be very objective
  7. 7. Can you be neutral like Dr. Xargle? From Dr Xargle’s book of Earthlets - the premise is that Dr. Xargle has written a book for alien children on his planet about “Earthlets”
  8. 8. Can you be neutral like Dr. Xargle?
  9. 9. Try to be neutral ● ● ● Look at the following photographs Write a short description of the setting and the people in it. Try to write using language that is as neutral and as unbiased as possible. Then share the description with a partner and see if they can spot any value judgments or prejudices. OR ● Look at the picture and describe in a neutral way what is going on to another person. The other person should identify any use of language that is biased, prejudiced or shows an emphasis on a particular perspective. Is it possible to be objective about these people?
  10. 10. Try to be neutral - Macie Dakowicz http://www.maciejdakowicz.com/cardiff-after-dark/
  11. 11. Try to be neutral - Macie Dakowicz http://www.maciejdakowicz.com/cardiff-after-dark/
  12. 12. Try to be neutral - Macie Dakowicz http://www.maciejdakowicz.com/cardiff-after-dark/
  13. 13. Try to be neutral - Macie Dakowicz http://www.maciejdakowicz.com/cardiff-after-dark/
  14. 14. Naturalist and Interpretivist approaches ● Naturalists. Some Human Scientists believe it is possible to apply the same objectivity when studying human behaviour as is applied in the Natural Sciences. They not only believe that it is possible to be objective, but also that universal truths can be reached; ● Interpretivists not only believe it is impossible to be objective in the Human Scientists, but also think it is best to be upfront about biases, partiality and prejudices. They seek meaning and causes not just an objective study of data. Therefore the process of interpreting the world is central to the human sciences they would argue.
  15. 15. Naturalist and Interpretivist approaches ● Naturalists. Tend to prefer looking at quantitative data. That is data that is numerical, measured by mathematical means. This data tends to be hard to argue against. Often though there are attendant difficulties of language and/or classification. Consider the proposed HK Poverty Line. In October of this year the HK government announced that it was going to focus on poverty in the city. Its premise was that the first step was define what is meant by being poor and define a poverty line. And then to ascertain how many live below this line. See handout and discussion questions / article from Sept 2013 SCMP
  16. 16. Poverty Line set for Hong Kong
  17. 17. Naturalist and Interpretivist approaches ● Interpretivists not only believe it is impossible to be objective in the Human Scientists, but also think it is best to be upfront about biases, partiality and prejudices. They seek meaning and causes not just an objective study of data. Therefore the process of interpreting the world is central to the human sciences they would argue.
  18. 18. Key Ideas: CINAC (Correlation is not a cause)
  19. 19. Key Ideas: CINAC (Correlation is not a cause)
  20. 20. Key Ideas: CINAC (Correlation is not a cause) One of the key flaws of the Human Scientific method is to confuse a correlation with a causal relationship. In other words if two events coincide in time of place, one can mistakenly think that one caused the other.
  21. 21. Key Ideas: CINAC (Correlation is not a cause)
  22. 22. Key Ideas: CINAC ● (Correlation is not a cause) Imagine you are watching at a railway station. More and more people arrive until the platform is crowded, and then — hey presto — along comes a train. Did the people cause the train to arrive (A causes B)? Did the train cause the people to arrive (B causes A)? No, they both depended on a railway timetable (C caused both A and B)? Discuss in pairs From CINAC Correlation is not a cause by Susan Blackmore
  23. 23. Key Ideas: CINAC (Correlation is not a cause) "Suppose it's been discovered (I don't mean it's true) that children who eat more tomato ketchup do worse in their exams. Why could this be?" ● ● ● ● ● Is this correlation or causation? If it was causation - what is it about excessive ketchup consumption that causes academic underperformance? Are there other reasons for this correlation? How might a natural scientist test this causal hypothesis? How might the human scientists approach differ. From CINAC Correlation is not a cause by Susan Blackmore
  24. 24. Key Ideas: CINAC (Correlation is not a cause) "Suppose we find that the more often people consult astrologers or psychics the longer they live." ● ● ● ● ● Is this correlation or causation? If it was causation - what is it about astrology or psychic phenomena that extend human life? Are there other reasons for this correlation? How might a natural scientist test this causal hypothesis? How might the human scientists approach differ. From CINAC Correlation is not a cause by Susan Blackmore
  25. 25. Key Ideas: Path Dependence In trying to understand why humans behave as they do, it is a good idea to understand the concept of Path Dependence. “Path dependence refers to the fact that often, something that seems normal or inevitable today began with a choice that made sense at a particular time in the past, but survived despite the eclipse of the justification for that choice, because once established, external factors discouraged going into reverse to try other alternatives.” The linguist John Mcwhorter tells us on The Edge website
  26. 26. Key Ideas: Path Dependence The Qwerty keyboard is a good way of illustrating the concept of path dependence. The layout of leter on the Qwerty was designed to slow typists down so that there was less likelihood of the hammers on a typewriter jamming. Even though the reason for the qwerty keyboard has gone, we still use it on the latest Macbook airs! This is path dependence!
  27. 27. Key Ideas: Path Dependence See Handout ... Monkeys, a Stepladder and Water or .... How Human Behaviour can be Path Dependent Can you think of any other situations where people act in a path dependent way? Discuss in pairs. What implications does this have for students of various Human Sciences? Taken from http://blog.ladders-online.com/2012/06/11/stepladdersmonkeys/
  28. 28. Key Ideas: Nature vs Nurture The nature versus nurture debate is one of the oldest issues in psychology. The debate centers on the relative contributions of genetic inheritance and environmental factors to human development. Taken from http://psychology.about. "Gendering kids starts immediately after birth, when we wrap a baby in a pink blanket or a blue one. Babies have no idea what they're even wearing. It's parents who buy into the binary, and the rest of us who are thoroughly uncomfortable when they don't." Are gender specific traits passed on genetically or are they programmed by environmental factors? com/od/nindex/g/nature-nurture.htm From the Guardian article here / see handout http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/22/punish-kidscross-gender-play-abuse?CMP=fb_us
  29. 29. Key Ideas: Free Will The Doctrine of Determinism Determinism is a far-reaching term affecting many areas of concern, that most widely and radically states that all events in the world are the result of some previous event, or events. In this view, all of reality is already in a sense pre-determined or pre-existent and, therefore, nothing new can come into existence. This closed view of the universe and of our world holds all events to be simply the effects of other prior effects. This has radical and farreaching implications for morality, science, and religion. If general, radical, determinism is correct, then all events in the future are unalterable, as are all events in the past. A major consequence of this is that human freedom is simply an illusion. http://www.thegreatdebate.org.uk/determinismandfreewill.html
  30. 30. Key Ideas: Free Will If free will exists then how can Human Scientists come up with airtight theories to explain human behaviours. If the determinists are right - why should they bother? This is why free will is such a key idea for the Human Sciences. Trying to understand social systems forces us to wrestle with the concept of free will. Does free will make it impossible to build models that reliably predict what human beings will do? http://necsi.edu/research/overview/freewill.html
  31. 31. Key Ideas: Free Will If free will does not exist should we punish criminals? Does an absence of free will mean wrongdoers are not responsible for their actions? Read this blogpost and discuss your views
  32. 32. Key Ideas: Free Will To what extent are we free to make choices? Watch this video (12 mins) and then discuss this question? Read this article from The Slate website which discusses a more positive view of free will. It says that we do have free will and argues a theory of how it evolved. Here is a counterargument. What do you think? Quantum Physics and free will - how does Science have a bearing on this debate?
  33. 33. Other Resources Nature vs Nurture Debate - Theory of Knowledge.net Includes good section on The Milgram Experiment The Knowledge Framework - Theory of Knowledge.net Presentation by plangdale on slideshare Really good on issues in experimentation and the problems inherent in measurement and interpretation in the Human Sciences

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