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Unit 5. Empathy, truth and method

Unit 5. Empathy, truth and method



Unit 5. Empathy, truth and method [Philosophy of Science]

Unit 5. Empathy, truth and method [Philosophy of Science]



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    Unit 5. Empathy, truth and method Unit 5. Empathy, truth and method Presentation Transcript

    • Unit 5
      Empathy, method and truth
    • Last class
      Demarcation: Distinguishing scientific (empirical) knowledge from everyday knowledge
      Empiricism: social sciences should use the methodology of natural sciences
    • Criticism of empirical method
      Without context (historical, cultural etc.)
      Uncritical of society
    • Bleaching human behavior
    • Strict demarcation bleaches human behavior
      All bones and no flesh
    • Hermeneutics
    • hermeneutics
      Hermes: God of deceit, trade and messenger of the Gods
      Hermeneutics focuses on the interpretation of narratives
    • Wilhelm Dilthey (1883-1911)
      “Erklären” (explaining) Natural sciences (physical laws)
      “Verstehen” (understanding/interpreting) Social sciences
      Verstehen doesn’t really play a role in quantitative research
    • Erklären(law-governed explanation)
      Causal explanations
      Why does person X go to war?
      Because war has broken out
    • Verstehen(interpretation)
      Human agency
      Why does person x go to war?
      Because he was raised as a patriot and he feels it his duty to protect his country when it is threatened by a hostile nation.
    • In what kind of research cases would empathy be valuable?
      Name some examples
    • Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)
    • Being-in-the-world
      Being-in-the-world is a 'thrownness'  (Geworfenheit)
      We are thrown in the world
      We are put in a context without prior knowledge.
      There is no such thing as seeing the world form a birds-eye view
      We only see the world from within the world
    • All meaning is context dependent
      All meaning is anticipated from a certain point of view
    • Hermeneutic circleUnderstanding the whole by its parts in reference to the whole
    • Like reading a book
      To understand a sentence of a book you need to understand the whole book (context)
      To understand the whole book you need to understand the individual sentences.
    • Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002)
    • You always start out from prejudice, pre-understanding, pre-judgment
      Stating a research question is already interpretation
    • Truth and Method
      Gadamer was critical of positivism (empiricism) in social sciences
      Social sciences shouldn't use The methodology of natural sciences
    • prejudice
      Understanding is a dialogue
      We understand ourselves
      And the matter at hand
    • Fusion of horizons
      We all have our own horizon
      By interpreting the horizon of others we broaden our own horizon
    • People are embedded in a (historical and cultural) context
      They have their own vantage point, their horizon
      Interpreting a narrative involves a fusion of horizons
    • Interpretative theory
    • Statements as conveyors of meaning
      Not: what correspondence with reality is there in statement A
      But: What does statement A mean
    • Interpretative theory
      Room for free will, intentionality
       Subjectivist paradigm, meaning is inter-subjectively created
      Understanding an action by relating it to the (cultural) whole
      Analyzing interviews
    • Examples of relation to the whole
      Name some examples of customs that can only be understood in relation to the whole
    • Constructing narratives
    • People construct their own narrative
      By interacting people construct/negotiate a reality
      So our reality is not objectively given but inter-subjectively constructed
    • Clifford Geertz (1926-2006)
    • Max Weber: Man is an animal in a web of meaning of his own making
      Geertz: Culture is the whole of these webs
      These webs should not be researched in the vein of the natural sciences: in search of laws.
      But: interpretative search for meaning
    • Thick description
      Thin description: what is literally happening
      Thick description: What is happening in context, in the space between erklären and verstehen
    • Example: Winking
      Person a blinks his eye in an involuntary twitch
      Person b blinks his eye as a signal to a friend
      In thin description the actions of a and b would be the same
      In thick description we link the action of person b to a context
      His winking is a public code related to a larger cultural context
    • Science or relativism?
      Do we get more understanding?
      Can we acquire knowledge trough empathy?
      Is this scientific?
    • Epistemology: Empathy as knowledge?
    • Criticism
      Do we risk relativism if we don’t use the rules of the empirical method? (remember Popper)
      Anything goes? (remember Feyerabend)