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Are the social Sciences Really Inferior? Essay

Prologue

It is a common notion that the social sciences, as it were, are inferior to the natural sciences when it comes to being a “science”. Some sects in the society even questions the credibility of the claim of the social sciences that they are indeed a science; several faction of the society views social science as a whole as being inferior to the natural science, a number of them even does not consider social sciences as a science at all. The article at hand, tackles this dispute by pointing out several points of comparison between the two bodies of knowledge so as to achieve clarity and a definitive answer regarding the matter at hand. The following are the points that the author of the article pointed out: invariability of observations, objectivity of observations and explanations, verifiability of hypothesis, exactness of findings, measurability of phenomena, constancy of numerical relationships, predictability of future events, distance from everyday experience, and standards of admission and requirements. The points presented by the author of the selection will be pondered upon in this paper in such a manner that clarity and clearness may be achieved. In this respect, the author of this paper took liberty of dividing the work into several headings, just like what the original writer did, and after each heading the authors own explanation of the matter at hand will be presented. In this manner, the author hopes to arrive at a scholarly paper that can ascertain the matter at hand.

Invariability of observations

To make things simpler, the notion that the author of the said article wants to establish under this heading is that the natural sciences imposes a sort of superiority over the social sciences. This is because of the fact that the natural sciences are invariant when it comes to its object of study, hence its object of study may recur. While in the case of the social sciences, since the nature of society is to change, its object of study is incorporated with variability. However, the author pointed out that there is a social science that can be considered as invariable, and that is in the field of economics. In addition to what already has been stated, the author posited the position that the only difference in the variability between the social sciences and the natural sciences is that of degree, that is if we are talking about the real world.

Taking a closer look at the matter at hand, we may safely state that there is indeed a difference between the two sciences when it comes to the variability of their object of study, this is due to the number of relevant factors to be taken into account for explaining or predicting events occurring in the real world.

Objectivity of observations and explanations

It is a common notion that the natural sciences will do everything in its power to at least reduce the level of subjectivity in their field, if not to completely annihilate it. On the contrary, the society views the social sciences as imbued with subjectivity and thrive on it. Well, this is true if we look at both sciences at a glance; however, taking a second look at it we may realize that even the natural sciences may have a little touch of subjectivity instilled in it. This assertion is based on the following factors: the scientist, who conducts the experiments and other vital stuff in the natural sciences, ethical problems, and selection of a project in the choice of the subject for investigation.

The scientist

The scientist, who conducts different sorts of experiments and tests in the laboratory, in one way or the other, is still imbued with subjectivity no matter how hard he try and no matter how hard they contest it to be. This is for the reason that the individuality of a scientist cannot be eliminated no matter what because he is still a human being in the first place.

Ethical problems

Ethical problems may influence the subject of study in the natural sciences in many various ways. Political pressure, media intervention, Church’s involvement etc. may affect the object of study in any natural sciences. This influence of diverse forces in the natural sciences may in the process infuse a subjective aspect in the object of study being scrutinized.

Selection of a project in the choice of the subject for investigation

The scientist chooses the project in the choice of the subject for investigation. As it implies, the scientist will of course choose the subject matter that interests him. In this manner, the subjectivity of the scientist is being instilled in the object of study under the natural sciences.

It seems that the only difference between the two sciences when it comes to the heading being tackled is that social phenomena are explained only if they are attributed to definite types of action which are understood in terms of values motivating those who decide and act. The concern with values of the social sciences, it seems, is the crucial difference between the two. However, this does not take anything away from the social sciences and it is clear that this advantage is not a basis of superiority in either case.

Verifiability of hypothesis

In the case of the natural science, it is benefited with the capacity to have or conduct controlled experiments on the object of study. In this type of experiment the diverse factors that may affect the object of study are limited and controlled, that is the reason why in the natural sciences verifiability of hypothesis is possible. In the case of the social sciences, these types of controlled experiments and tests are not possible for the reason that the object of study of the social sciences deals with the society and the day-to-day living of different people, which makes it improbable to conduct experiments as such. Clearly, in this respect, the natural sciences have a vantage point vis-à-vis the social sciences. However, this does not necessitate that the natural sciences are indeed superior to the social sciences.

Exactness of findings

According to the article, the meaning of exactness best founded in intellectual history is the possibility of constructing theoretical systems of idealized models containing abstract constructs of variables and of relations between variables, from which most or all propositions concerning particular connections can be deduced. In this respect, the natural sciences are no different from the social sciences. This is for the reason that such systems cannot be found in several of the natural sciences– in several aspects in biology for instance–while it can be found in at least one of the social sciences: economics. Given this fact, it cannot be asserted that the natural sciences are indeed superior to the social sciences regarding the factor at hand.

Measurability of phenomena

The point of the author in this particular portion of the article is that there is no way of judging whether non-quantifiable factors are more prevalent in nature or society. In this light, there can be no aspect of superiority or inferiority regarding this matter between the natural and the social sciences.

Constancy of numerical relationships

Regarding this matter, there is without a doubt that the natural sciences are in advantage if compared to the social sciences. This is due to the fact that in the natural sciences, there exist such a constant law and figures that can never be changed or alter in any manner. On the contrary, in the case of the social sciences there are no such constant laws or figures to support and supplement the body of knowledge in its endeavor. This is for the reason that in the real social world nothing is constant but change, and it is due to this nature of the social world that constancy is far from being achieved.

Predictability of future events

The common notion regarding the predictive power of the natural science is true, given the fact that it does not permeate different factors that can alter the prediction. In other words, due to the controlled experiments of the natural scientist, prediction is not far from being reached. However, in the case of the social sciences, wherein the object of study is the society, predictability is hard to find.

According to the author of this particular article, the only difference between the two sciences in this respect is that experts in the natural sciences usually do not try to do what they know that they cannot do; and nobody expects them to do it. Social scientists, on the other hand, for some strange reasons are expected to foretell the future and they feel bad if they fail to do so.

Distance from everyday experience

Science is viewed by many as anything that cannot be comprehended by a layman or an ordinary person. The object of study of the natural sciences are somehow not attuned and far from the day-to-day experiences and living of the ordinary people. While the object of study of the social sciences are directly affects the fervor of the masses. This is the reason that the social sciences are more close to the hearts of men. However, this does not say anything regarding the query at hand.

Standards of Admission and requirements

According to some study the IQ level of the students of physics are more advance than those students in other courses. In this basis where the foundation of the natural sciences’ claims that there proponents are more intelligent than those of the social sciences. However, as stipulated by the author of the said article, this does not assert anything in favor or against both the social and the natural sciences for the reason that this factors depends entirely on the school or the academe that are offering such courses. It is a given fact that the natural science students are more advance in terms of their IQ level for the reason that they are more adept in calculus than any other students. Nonetheless this does not entail that the natural sciences are superior to the social sciences.

The Score Card

Taking a closer look at the point by point comparison made by the author between the factors that may be able to point out the difference between the two bodies of knowledge, we may ascertain that there are at least three definitive advantage of the natural sciences with regards to the social sciences, namely; invariability of observations, verifiability of hypothesis, and constancy of numerical relationships. However, the way the author of this paper sees it, these advantages are mere benefits that the natural sciences enjoys and these vantage point does not entail that the natural sciences are superior to the social sciences in any manner. On the second thought, the author of this paper thinks that there is no point of comparison between the two sciences at hand. This is because of the reason that the one is not an alternative of the other. The social sciences are not an alternative of the natural sciences, wherein we can choose one over the other.

Instead, the two bodies of knowledge go hand in hand to make the complex world that we are living in comprehendible to the society. Without one of these sciences an individual person may find himself amidst a cloud of confusion and bewilderment. The factors presented in the paper do not imply that we ought not to study social sciences because of its inferiority to the natural sciences. The vantage point of the natural sciences is but a benefit that can be enjoyed by this particular body of knowledge. To sum things up, the so-called inferiority of the social sciences to the natural sciences is but a phantom that the society in general integrates to the former, viewing the later as indeed superior.

Epilogue

In chapter one of the set of articles that we were asked to read, the thesis question presented is that “is the social science really inferior to the natural science?”. On the course of our discussions and presentation of facts, we come to the conclusion and understanding that the natural sciences indeed has some advantage to enjoy and maximize if compared to the social sciences. However, as pointed out in the paper at hand, these vantage points does not entail that the natural sciences are superior to the social sciences in any manner. This is for the reason, as stipulated earlier; the one is not an alternative or a substitute of the other. This is for the same reason that, as the author of this paper views it, there is no point of comparison between the two bodies of knowledge at hand.

Indeed, there are several advantages when it comes to the nature and structure of the natural sciences if compared to the social sciences. However, these advantages should not be viewed in lieu of the superiority/inferiority debate; instead it should serve as a challenge on the part of the social sciences to maximize and make the most out of the available resources of the social sciences to be able for it to comply and be attuned with the needs of the social reality.


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