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Published by Nazia Hafeez

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Published by: Nazia Hafeez on Apr 16, 2012
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Human/Social Sciences

What are we referring to? Somewhere between “Science” and “Humanities” Principles from last week: Predictive power, internal consistency, verifiability, validity, reliability

As a science, it fits in as the most interdisciplinary – building up from the natural sciences and adding its own particular input like so: Psychology, Economics, Political Science, Sociology > Biology > Chemistry > Physics Theories in the human sciences must connect quantitative and qualitative information in a meaningful, rigorous way for anyone to pay
Are the human sciences therefore more susceptible to bias because theories may be less well defined (almost no concept of proof), or less susceptible because nothing is ever accepted as true?

attention. If no one pays attention, the theory fails.

Modeling behavior
Similar to any natural science, the human sciences propose and debate models of behavior – there are far more recognized variables with far more variation than in any natural science, however, and therefore models that attempt to simplify this complexity naturally rely on statistical probability rather than absolute predictions – exceptions to a proposed
Is this a weakness or a strength? What does it mean if it is a weakness? How does this affect our understanding of behavior?

model do not invalidate it, but simply show that unaccounted forces are also at work. Many theories tend to place emphasis on emergent rather than reductionist properties of behavior – they are more interested in what happens when you put many pieces together rather than trying to explain behaviors only in terms of their component parts.

The “so what?” test
Because the human sciences connect more directly with everyday human

How does this effect what it is “knowable” in the human sciences? Is this a limitation or a practical advantage?

and should be used as a guide for effectively interacting with others. predictive power. Many studies in the human sciences use deception in order to get valid results – is this necessary? Why or why not? . What can be done with this knowledge? People and societies that do not fit the models of the human sciences are abnormal.behavior. and humanities? Provocation The human sciences know “you” better than you. human sciences. it is sometimes easier to recognize how to immediately apply even the most cutting-edge research (unlike many natural sciences and pure humanities). most general. and should be treated with caution. most specific)? Is the “so what?” test important? How are these criteria different from those in other areas of knowledge? How is the concept of “proof” different in the human sciences compared with the natural sciences? How does this affect our claims to be correct (to “know”)? How does the balance between emotion and reason differ between the natural sciences. The human sciences attempt to identify people or situations that are most likely to cause problems or create solutions to social challenges. is it valid to experiment in the human sciences? What about free will? How does the possibility of free will affect our ability to study humans? What criteria should be applied when evaluating theories in the human sciences (utility. and this goal is built into the research community – when something is modeled. it should clearly answer the question “so what?” Technology becomes useful by applying the human sciences. Questions: Is it valid to use the scientific method to study human behavior? What modifications should be made? Since it is impossible to control every variable.

and let the first-borns decide what to do.Example applications Intelligence – recent studies have shown that birth order affects intelligence and creativity. First-borns tend to be more intelligent. but ultimately simple computers were used instead of pigeons. while later-borns tend to be more creative. It was a relatively effective program. should we have continued to use them? What if they were mice. or monkeys? . Warfare – BF Skinner trained pigeons to operate as missile guidance systems in the 1950’s. or snakes. let the later-borns propose a variety of solutions. If pigeons had remained the most effective guidance systems. This has been determined by science. The animals were put in the nosecones of the rockets and had to peck keys in order to keep the missiles on course. So what? When putting together a project.

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