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Tahmina Ferdous Tanny, SUST, Sylhet, email: tahminatanny@gmail.com
Introduction
Philosophy of science and social research process is historical which depends on the logical and
conceptual dimensions. Social research is concerned with exploring, describing, and explaining
social phenomena involving human behavior (Sufian; 1998:3). It is carried out creating for
something new about the world in terms of the basic concepts that characterized the particular
discipline. Philosophy of social science deals with the generalized meaning of the thing and
centered on the sharing of experience about the social world in which people’s perspective
differs from one another. Social science has always been multi-perspective and multi cultural in
nature which is facilitated under various approches philosophical ground to understand the social
world.
Philosophy of social research
Philosophy is determined with building the whole of human knowledge through a form of
logically inter-connected system. Knowledge is built up on the answers of questions. Since
developing as autonomous disciplines the social sciences have tended to re examine their
philosophical foundations only during periods of crisis to reevaluate or look again the
fundamental issues and basis:
1. The time when familiar and trusted methods no longer seem to justify the faith originally
invested in them.
2. The time when researchers lose confidence in the significance of their findings.
3. The time when obvious and taken for granted principles no longer seem quite so clear
cut.
Basis of Philosophical Approaches to Social Research
Ontology refers to the theory of reality what reality generally looks like.
Epistemology refers to the theory of knowledge of that reality what particular properties and
relations of reality we can describe. No philosophical epistemology can be composed of self-
evident truths, firm for all time.
Interrelationship between Philosophy and social science
Tahmina Ferdous Tanny, SUST, Sylhet, email: tahminatanny@gmail.com
 The social sciences have been born and nurtured within the speculative fold of
philosophical foundation where philosophy was emerged in the arena of human thoughts
about the social world.
 It starts from where our ideas and concepts are stretched to their limits on social ground.
 Philosophy analyses the entities of the social world from different aspects: reality, nature
of knowledge, mind, matter, truth and logic of abstract phenomena. It finds out the truth
first and then logic and cause-effect analysis of the events or things.
Role of philosophy in social research
 All the techniques, methods and tools of social research process should be self-validated
according to philosophy.
 Their efficiency or effectiveness is depended on philosophical justification.
 Research methods and concepts cannot be divorced from theory as well as research tools
because they are operated within a given set of assumptions about the nature of society,
the nature of human behavior and the interactions between these two where philosophy
simply aims clarifying the obstacles in obtaining knowledge as true and logical.
Approaches of Philosophy of Science in Social Research
Realism
Realism is a perspective of social research which represents itself as a dominant indicator on
international politics. For its ontology, the ultimate objects of social scientific enquiry (i.e.
society, state, self ) exist and act independently of social scientists and their activities. The social
reality is stratified into three domains:
1. the empirical observations are made up of experiences and events through observations;
2. the real events whether observed or not and
3. the reality consists of the existing processes, powers and causal mechanisms that generate
events.
Social reality can be viewed as a socially constructed world in which social elements are the
products of social actors or social arrangements are the product of material structures of
relations.
Tahmina Ferdous Tanny, SUST, Sylhet, email: tahminatanny@gmail.com
Example: Language, rituals of different religion, perception of someone, knowledge.
Empiricism
Empiricism is the doctrine that sense experience is the only basis of knowledge, and that
therefore all hypotheses and theories should be tested by a process of observation and
experience. In the philosophy of science, empiricism is a theory of knowledge which emphasizes
on those aspects of scientific knowledge that are closely related to evidence.
Ontology Empiricism entails ontology of an ordered universe made up of atomistic, discrete and
observed events which can be represented by universal prepositions, constant conjunctions or
regular patterns of events.
Epistemology In its epistemology, knowledge is derived from sensory experience, concepts and
generalizations which are summaries of particular observations.
Positivism
Positivism is a philosophy that states the only authentic knowledge is knowledge that is based on
actual sense of experience as well as holds monopoly of knowledge in science. For positivism,
social science is an attempt to gain predictive and explanatory knowledge of the external world
and to do this; the researcher must construct theories that consist of highly general statements,
expressing the regular relationships. Positivism denies the perspective which states that all
human qualities are beyond the reach of scientific understanding. Positivism has been criticized
for its universalism and also fails to prove that there is no abstract ideas, laws and principles.
Post-positivism
Post-positivism is the neo positivist’s view to social research process in using new techniques or
tools where the philosophers used the logical reasoning process. In the system of logic, it will
discuss how two major logical systems, the inductive and deductive methods of reasoning are
related to modern research. To ensure the quality of the research process, it takes on two
different but interrelated instruments: validity and reliability. Validity, mainly, is just something
abstract and philosophical which is the principle of post positivism and reality.
Tahmina Ferdous Tanny, SUST, Sylhet, email: tahminatanny@gmail.com
Idealism
Idealism is understood in one of two senses, metaphysical and political, metaphysical idealism is
the belief that, in the final analysis, only ideas exist. Idealism entails ontology in which social
reality is the product of processes through which social actors negotiate the meaning of and for
actions and situations. In its epistemology, knowledge is derived from everyday concepts and
meanings. The social researcher enters into day to day social world in order to get socially
constructed meanings and then reconstructs these meanings in a scientific knowledge.
Rationalism
Rationalism is the belief that knowledge flows from reason rather than experience. It refers to the
replacement of tradition, values and emotion and motivate based on reason. It is opposite of
empiricism on the question of source of knowledge and techniques for verification of knowledge.
The idea of rationalization was given by Emanuel Kent.
Functionalism
Functionalism is the metaphysical theory of mind and human behaviorism which suggests that
mental status (beliefs, desires etc) are constructed solely through their functional role.
Functionalism is the doctrine that social institutions and practices can be understood in term of
functions they carry out in it sustaining the larger social system. It is also concerned with the
theme that social and political researchable phenomena can be understood in terms of the
consequences rather than causes.
Structuralism
Structuralism is concerned with the analysis of language, culture and society from structural
perspective. Structuralism is a theory that elements of human culture must be understood in
terms of their relationship to a larger system. Simon Black Burn- Structuralism is the belief that
phenomena of human life are not intelligible except through their interaction.
Utilitarianism
Utilitarianism is a moral philosophy that suggests that the rightness of action, policy or
institution can be established by its tendency to promote happiness (Heywood; 2000:108). It is
Tahmina Ferdous Tanny, SUST, Sylhet, email: tahminatanny@gmail.com
the idea that the moral worth of an action is solely determined through maximized happiness or
pleasure of all persons.
Instrumentalism
the instrumentalism approach views that concepts and theories are merely useful equipment’s
whose worth is measured not by whether the concepts and theories are true or false, but by how
effective they are in explaining and predicting phenomena. Instrumentalism is related closely
with pragmatism which sometimes contrasts with scientific realism in which theories are to be
proved more or less true.
Feminism
Feminist ideology is therefore characterized by two basic beliefs: first, Women and men are
treated differently because of their sex; secondly, the unequal treatment can and should be
overturned. Feminism is a collection of common goal to define, establish and achieve equal
political, economic, cultural, personal and social rights of women.
Materialism
Materialism was the trend of the early twentieth century which explains social, historical and
cultural development in terms of material and class factor. The one portion of materialists
believes that mind is simply an epiphenomenon of matter but it is always analyzing the social
facts from the ground of superstructure.
Phenomenological Approach
Phenomenological approach has been analyzed from three different grounds in the philosophy of
social research: dialectical phenomenology; transcendental phenomenology and subjective and
objective phenomenology.
 Phenomenology is that approach to philosophy of science which begins with an
exploration of phenomenon (what represents itself to research process in conscious
experience)
 Phenomenology is the reflective study of the essence of consciousness as experienced
from the first person point of view. It takes the intuitive experience of phenomenon
Tahmina Ferdous Tanny, SUST, Sylhet, email: tahminatanny@gmail.com
 The other perspective to phenomenology overlooked basic structural features of both
subject and object of experience
Skepticism
Skepticism, as an epistemological argument, poses the question of whether knowledge is
possible or not within the fold of social research. For knowledge, it is not necessary to believe
something strongly but to justify an assertion of knowledge.
Nomothetic and Ideographic
Nomothetic states the tendency of generalization which is expressed in natural sciences, whereas,
the ideographic is based on a tendency to specify and express in humanities that describes the
effort to understand the meaning of contingent, accidental and sometimes subjective phenomena.
In social research process, nomothetic approach is quantitative and ideographic approach is
qualitative.
Solipsism
Solipsism (literally one-self-ism) is the doctrine of individualistic perspectives where its general
philosophical position can be viewed as one can know only about oneself. Solipsism believes
that one doesn’t know nothing except one’ own experiences, states and acts.
Atomism
The atomism approach states that the primary units of social world are self reliable, self
contained independent and separate entities. It describes that person’s experiences are his own
unique states of consciousness in which he has optimum privilege to access.

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Approaches of Philosophy of Science in Social Research

  • 1. Tahmina Ferdous Tanny, SUST, Sylhet, email: tahminatanny@gmail.com Introduction Philosophy of science and social research process is historical which depends on the logical and conceptual dimensions. Social research is concerned with exploring, describing, and explaining social phenomena involving human behavior (Sufian; 1998:3). It is carried out creating for something new about the world in terms of the basic concepts that characterized the particular discipline. Philosophy of social science deals with the generalized meaning of the thing and centered on the sharing of experience about the social world in which people’s perspective differs from one another. Social science has always been multi-perspective and multi cultural in nature which is facilitated under various approches philosophical ground to understand the social world. Philosophy of social research Philosophy is determined with building the whole of human knowledge through a form of logically inter-connected system. Knowledge is built up on the answers of questions. Since developing as autonomous disciplines the social sciences have tended to re examine their philosophical foundations only during periods of crisis to reevaluate or look again the fundamental issues and basis: 1. The time when familiar and trusted methods no longer seem to justify the faith originally invested in them. 2. The time when researchers lose confidence in the significance of their findings. 3. The time when obvious and taken for granted principles no longer seem quite so clear cut. Basis of Philosophical Approaches to Social Research Ontology refers to the theory of reality what reality generally looks like. Epistemology refers to the theory of knowledge of that reality what particular properties and relations of reality we can describe. No philosophical epistemology can be composed of self- evident truths, firm for all time. Interrelationship between Philosophy and social science
  • 2. Tahmina Ferdous Tanny, SUST, Sylhet, email: tahminatanny@gmail.com  The social sciences have been born and nurtured within the speculative fold of philosophical foundation where philosophy was emerged in the arena of human thoughts about the social world.  It starts from where our ideas and concepts are stretched to their limits on social ground.  Philosophy analyses the entities of the social world from different aspects: reality, nature of knowledge, mind, matter, truth and logic of abstract phenomena. It finds out the truth first and then logic and cause-effect analysis of the events or things. Role of philosophy in social research  All the techniques, methods and tools of social research process should be self-validated according to philosophy.  Their efficiency or effectiveness is depended on philosophical justification.  Research methods and concepts cannot be divorced from theory as well as research tools because they are operated within a given set of assumptions about the nature of society, the nature of human behavior and the interactions between these two where philosophy simply aims clarifying the obstacles in obtaining knowledge as true and logical. Approaches of Philosophy of Science in Social Research Realism Realism is a perspective of social research which represents itself as a dominant indicator on international politics. For its ontology, the ultimate objects of social scientific enquiry (i.e. society, state, self ) exist and act independently of social scientists and their activities. The social reality is stratified into three domains: 1. the empirical observations are made up of experiences and events through observations; 2. the real events whether observed or not and 3. the reality consists of the existing processes, powers and causal mechanisms that generate events. Social reality can be viewed as a socially constructed world in which social elements are the products of social actors or social arrangements are the product of material structures of relations.
  • 3. Tahmina Ferdous Tanny, SUST, Sylhet, email: tahminatanny@gmail.com Example: Language, rituals of different religion, perception of someone, knowledge. Empiricism Empiricism is the doctrine that sense experience is the only basis of knowledge, and that therefore all hypotheses and theories should be tested by a process of observation and experience. In the philosophy of science, empiricism is a theory of knowledge which emphasizes on those aspects of scientific knowledge that are closely related to evidence. Ontology Empiricism entails ontology of an ordered universe made up of atomistic, discrete and observed events which can be represented by universal prepositions, constant conjunctions or regular patterns of events. Epistemology In its epistemology, knowledge is derived from sensory experience, concepts and generalizations which are summaries of particular observations. Positivism Positivism is a philosophy that states the only authentic knowledge is knowledge that is based on actual sense of experience as well as holds monopoly of knowledge in science. For positivism, social science is an attempt to gain predictive and explanatory knowledge of the external world and to do this; the researcher must construct theories that consist of highly general statements, expressing the regular relationships. Positivism denies the perspective which states that all human qualities are beyond the reach of scientific understanding. Positivism has been criticized for its universalism and also fails to prove that there is no abstract ideas, laws and principles. Post-positivism Post-positivism is the neo positivist’s view to social research process in using new techniques or tools where the philosophers used the logical reasoning process. In the system of logic, it will discuss how two major logical systems, the inductive and deductive methods of reasoning are related to modern research. To ensure the quality of the research process, it takes on two different but interrelated instruments: validity and reliability. Validity, mainly, is just something abstract and philosophical which is the principle of post positivism and reality.
  • 4. Tahmina Ferdous Tanny, SUST, Sylhet, email: tahminatanny@gmail.com Idealism Idealism is understood in one of two senses, metaphysical and political, metaphysical idealism is the belief that, in the final analysis, only ideas exist. Idealism entails ontology in which social reality is the product of processes through which social actors negotiate the meaning of and for actions and situations. In its epistemology, knowledge is derived from everyday concepts and meanings. The social researcher enters into day to day social world in order to get socially constructed meanings and then reconstructs these meanings in a scientific knowledge. Rationalism Rationalism is the belief that knowledge flows from reason rather than experience. It refers to the replacement of tradition, values and emotion and motivate based on reason. It is opposite of empiricism on the question of source of knowledge and techniques for verification of knowledge. The idea of rationalization was given by Emanuel Kent. Functionalism Functionalism is the metaphysical theory of mind and human behaviorism which suggests that mental status (beliefs, desires etc) are constructed solely through their functional role. Functionalism is the doctrine that social institutions and practices can be understood in term of functions they carry out in it sustaining the larger social system. It is also concerned with the theme that social and political researchable phenomena can be understood in terms of the consequences rather than causes. Structuralism Structuralism is concerned with the analysis of language, culture and society from structural perspective. Structuralism is a theory that elements of human culture must be understood in terms of their relationship to a larger system. Simon Black Burn- Structuralism is the belief that phenomena of human life are not intelligible except through their interaction. Utilitarianism Utilitarianism is a moral philosophy that suggests that the rightness of action, policy or institution can be established by its tendency to promote happiness (Heywood; 2000:108). It is
  • 5. Tahmina Ferdous Tanny, SUST, Sylhet, email: tahminatanny@gmail.com the idea that the moral worth of an action is solely determined through maximized happiness or pleasure of all persons. Instrumentalism the instrumentalism approach views that concepts and theories are merely useful equipment’s whose worth is measured not by whether the concepts and theories are true or false, but by how effective they are in explaining and predicting phenomena. Instrumentalism is related closely with pragmatism which sometimes contrasts with scientific realism in which theories are to be proved more or less true. Feminism Feminist ideology is therefore characterized by two basic beliefs: first, Women and men are treated differently because of their sex; secondly, the unequal treatment can and should be overturned. Feminism is a collection of common goal to define, establish and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal and social rights of women. Materialism Materialism was the trend of the early twentieth century which explains social, historical and cultural development in terms of material and class factor. The one portion of materialists believes that mind is simply an epiphenomenon of matter but it is always analyzing the social facts from the ground of superstructure. Phenomenological Approach Phenomenological approach has been analyzed from three different grounds in the philosophy of social research: dialectical phenomenology; transcendental phenomenology and subjective and objective phenomenology.  Phenomenology is that approach to philosophy of science which begins with an exploration of phenomenon (what represents itself to research process in conscious experience)  Phenomenology is the reflective study of the essence of consciousness as experienced from the first person point of view. It takes the intuitive experience of phenomenon
  • 6. Tahmina Ferdous Tanny, SUST, Sylhet, email: tahminatanny@gmail.com  The other perspective to phenomenology overlooked basic structural features of both subject and object of experience Skepticism Skepticism, as an epistemological argument, poses the question of whether knowledge is possible or not within the fold of social research. For knowledge, it is not necessary to believe something strongly but to justify an assertion of knowledge. Nomothetic and Ideographic Nomothetic states the tendency of generalization which is expressed in natural sciences, whereas, the ideographic is based on a tendency to specify and express in humanities that describes the effort to understand the meaning of contingent, accidental and sometimes subjective phenomena. In social research process, nomothetic approach is quantitative and ideographic approach is qualitative. Solipsism Solipsism (literally one-self-ism) is the doctrine of individualistic perspectives where its general philosophical position can be viewed as one can know only about oneself. Solipsism believes that one doesn’t know nothing except one’ own experiences, states and acts. Atomism The atomism approach states that the primary units of social world are self reliable, self contained independent and separate entities. It describes that person’s experiences are his own unique states of consciousness in which he has optimum privilege to access.