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ERIC Number: ED184943
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1979
Pages: 14
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: 0
The Social Sciences as a Domain of Knowledge.
Armstrong, Forrest H.
The author claims that the nature of the social sciences is to combine interpretive and empirical approaches in an attempt to understand human thought and behavior. He views the domain of social sciences as being different from that of the humanities or the natural sciences. Social scientists test interpretations by considering the extent to which they are supported or undercut by empirical data, but recognize that data alone neither prove nor disprove the interpretation. Experimentation is made difficult by the number and relations among variables, the subjective nature of variables, and ethical issues involved in human experimentation. Thus, the social sciences include both a core of "scientific knowledge" and introspective knowledge. Social sciences and the humanities differ in their focus: the humanities emphasize the individual almost to the exclusion of the group, whereas the social sciences focus on groups. Also, both the humanities and the natural sciences tend to deal in absolutes while the social sciences deal in statements of tendency. Thus, the social sciences reflect a characteristic way of viewing human behavior that is analytic, systematic and theoretical; a characteristic focus on topics such as social structures; attention to the nature and functioning of human groups; an appreciation for the need to embrace both empirical and subjective elements; and the desire to go beyond knowledge of these things to understand their significance and meaning. (Author/KC)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A