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Pick one of the following concepts derived from philosophy of the physical sciences and discuss how the relevant assumptions/mechanisms would play out differently in the philosophy of social science. -Causation -Necessity -Essentialism -Deductivism
I chose deductivism as the concept that I would like to discuss. Before discussing Sayer’s take on deductivism, a definition should be stated here. In simple terms, deductivism states that since induction is logically invalid, science should dispense with it in favor of deduction. Deductivism is theories that are deductively tested against data. In deductivism, the theories are not built from the bottom-up. Deductive theories are catching the world; to explain, rationalize and master it. There is a demarcation criterion that lies within deductivism and that is falsifability. Hypothetical and theoretical situations have to fulfill certain conditions to establish deductive testing is using applicable procedures. These conditions set boundaries between hypotheses and others. Hypotheses can be subjected to scientific testing but to be considered a scientific hypothesis, it does not need to be subjected to these testings. In inductivism as a contrast to deductivism, there is a rule that has control within the process and this rule of the hypothesis is not constrained so long as the hypothesis is falsifiable.
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Logical deduction is the main tool for testing a scientific hypothesis. Specific sentences can be deduced from this general hypothesis and can be compared to empirical data. Science invented falsifiable hypotheses and science does not attempt to confirm these hypotheses, just falsify them. In Karl Popper’s book Conjectures and Refutations published in 1963, he states that science tries to be unbiased and tests proposals as rigorously as possible. Karl Popper was a leading advocate of deductivism which was developed in the 20th century. Many social scientists took a strong hold on his proposal. P. Hoyningen-Huene (2007) states that the problem with deductivism is in its lack of principle. He states that if deductivism does not stop testing of hypotheses, it will never move forward to application. There has been many logical limitations in the area of positivism and empiricism that has helped the development of theories of knowledge. the two most influent alternatives Karl Popper’s review was in the area of inductivism and the formation of hypothetico-deductivism. Popper knew that a group of observations could never give augment the statement that ‘a follows b’. Nevertheless , there are time that we observe a following b, but there is no proof that in the next study it will happen again. It is possible that the following observation could differ. Popper finds a dilema with this induction. Popper was also not satisfied that a lot of theories provided many observation and provided many observations and ascribing to these observations as proof of the claims of the theory in question. Popper states there is no scientific theory that would be convincing and established. To avoid these situations, Popper To circumvent these problems, Popper planned that scientific research should rely on deduction and falsification. This is exactly what Popper’s hypothetico-deductive method
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does. Rejecting the theory or holding on to it for a certain amount of time is the goal of the research which is accomplished by putting the theory’s claims to a test. Instead of seeking for proof that proves a claim of the theory to be true, falsification is looked for through hypothetico-deductivism. By doing this, the researcher will be able to decide which claims are not ture and move closer to the truth.
In an article by Anthony Ferrucci entitled “Inductivism, Hypothetico-Deductivism, Falsificationism and Kuhnian Reconciliation” he states that “Hypothetico-deductivism rejects the context of discovery so crucial to the inductivist” (p 35). Those that believe in inductivism place their senses and observation to a higher standard and gains facts from perception. The hypthetico-deductivism contradicts this notion and states that not all facts are observable. A person who believes in hypothetical-deductivism will state that many things scientists develop begin by accident or through a preexisting theory, not by observation. Ferrucci states that it is of importance that the nature of scientific discovery is discussed along with how it would be interpreted by hypotheticodeductivism. For example, there exists what is known as “the Raven’s Paradox”. Stating “all ravens are black” is a hypothetico-deductive statement and is established when a black raven is discovered. The problem lies in its equivalent- “all non-black things are non-ravens”; the issue with this paradox is there lies the potential that there exist objects that are non-black and non-raven. In Sayer’s reading, he states that “the doctrine that science progresses not by verifying hypotheses, which is held to be impossible, but by falsifying them” (p 169). Sayer states that Popper, a logicist philosopher in the social sciences, treats theory and the laws of
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science as empirical regularities. Sayer makes it clear that “Popper acknowledges that observation is theory-laden, but weakens the point by treating theory as a logical ordering framework “(p 169). Science is deductive, not inductive. Popper feels that deduction is a form of inference. Popper coined the term hypothetico-deductive as a procedure where scientists can proceed with hypotheses in which testable statements and opinions can be deduced. Affirming a deductive argument DOES NOT prove a premise to be correct. In inductive arguments, this does not exist. Sayer uses an example from the natural sciences to make his point although Popper believes that social and natural science consist of similar methods of explanation. In Sayer’s example, he states the premise that all metals conduct electricity and that copper is a metal. The conclusion would then be that copper conducts electricity. In his second premise, Sayer states that all metals conduct electricity and aluminum is a metal, therefore, aluminum conducts electricity. These are deductive arguments but the second example is falsified. Since aluminum is a metal and the statement that all metals conduct electricity has to be false. Because one metal conducts electricity does not mean that all metals will conduct electricity. Sayer states that no compliance is sufficient to prove claims that were made in the foundation of such arguments, and only one atypical instance is necessary to cause a false claim. Popper felt that if the vulnerability of sequences of events is contingent to the problem of induction, then what is falsified today can be corroborated tomorrow. From the results of Sayer’s experiment, repeating the test would not create more falsifications. Sayer indicates that it is in presupposition that falsified relations are necessary and a long lasting theoretical significance can result (p 171).
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Popper’s view of science has been advocated as an ideal form of explanation and became known as the ‘deductive-nomological’ (D-N). In D-N, the event that is to be explained is deduced from universal law. Popper explains that form can be used to answer the question about why does copper conduct electricity? The first part of his equation is the Explanans which states that all metal conduct electricity (Law) and copper is a metal (the initial condition). The explanandum is that copper conducts electricity. Some believe that this still doesn’t explain the explanation. The model only gives some ground for allowing the explanandum to occur or just allows a path to derive the explanandum statement from other statements. Sayer comments on Poppers explanations and states that “we cannot afford to neglect the question of the content of explanations and the need for a causal explanation to cite the mechanism responsible for the event “(p 172). There is a reason why copper conducts electricity and other metals can’t. It is due to the free ions in its structure. This is an acceptable explanation. . Now the equation can be stated more clearly by saying that all metals with free ions conduct electricity, copper is a metal with free ions, therefore, copper conducts electricity. “The deductive-nomological model of explanation fails and bears witness to the poverty of logicism and its confusion on the grounds-particularly pertaining to the logical relations among statements-for expecting things to occur, with the real structures and mechanisms responsible for their occurrence” (p 173). Sayer makes mention of the economist R. G. Lipsey who wrote a textbook that stated that the hypothetico-deductive approach allowing for falsifications would be adopted. But if the relationships were treated as regularities and vulnerable to falsification, then there would be no theory left. Later on, Lipsey changed the introduction by suggesting the impossible testing of
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statistical laws and discovering the measurement of inductive support that can be noticed. This is something that Popper would not have approved. Goarke in 1992 and Gerritsen in 1994 objected to deductivism. The first objection is that “deductivism does not allow for differing degrees of evidential support between premises and conclusions”. The second objection is that “deductivism either fails to provide an account of fallacies or provides an incorrect account of fallacies” and the third objection is that “deductivism does not provide a defensible interpretive strategy for describing the structure of natural language arguments” (p 3). Godden states that the one standard that deductivism upholds is validity. In order to have a valid argument a false conclusion cannot be possible. Guessing that the conclusion is false is inconsistent with assumingl all premises are true. 2. What are the challenges of "borrowing" theories and research methods from the physical and biological sciences? What are the benefits? One of the challenges is that in deductivism, the emphasis lies in the fact that the theories come before the observations. Deductivists view inductism as invalid because scientific theories cannot be proven from observations, but they can be disproved. The theories can be tested through experiments, but the results will only bring about approximations. Most scientist support the inductivist view which is the process of observing and collecting facts, using these facts to form a hypothesis and then creating further experiments, which if fitted in, would approve a hypothesis so that it can be stated as theory. Science is always moving forward. No theory exists that can be improved upon.
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Another challenge is the fact the many theories accommodate observations. These theories in turn, can interpret the observations as proof of the claim of the theory. Scientific theory could not be decisively established causing issues. This is where the benefits come in. Popper proposed that scientific research should rely on deduction and falsification instead of induction and verification. The hypothetico-deductive method of Popper does just that. “Theories are tested by deriving hypotheses from them that can then be tested in practice, by experiment or observation”. The research goal is to place the assertion of the theory through tests and decide either to reject it or keep it. Instead of seeking for proof that would support a claim, hypothetico-deductivism looks for falsification. By doing this, the researcher can discover through the process of elimination of claims, which claims are not true and can then move closer to the truth. Popper believes that borrowing theories and research would help knowledge grow, slowly but in a continuous fashion. Borrowing from the physical science to the social science helps the researcher examine societal activities amongst a collection of individual behavior. Rigorous methods are conducted through the social sciences. Empirical means are used by social scientist as well as natural scientists to understand relationships in and about society.
Reference Gorski, P.S. (2004). The poverty of deductivism: A consgtructive realist model of sociological explanation. Sociological methodology, 34 (1), 1-33.
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Gerritsen,S. (1994). A defense of deductivism in reconstructing unexpressed premises. In van Emeren, F.H., & Grootendorst, R. (eds.), Studies in pragmadialectics. Amsterdam: Sic Sat.
Popper, K. (1957). The poverty of historicism. New York: Harper.
Popper, K. (1965). The logic of scientific discovery. New York: Harper.
Popper, K. (1983). Realism and the aim of science. London: Hutchinson.
Sayer, A. (1992). Method in social science: A realist approach. London & New York: Routledge.
Willig, C. (2005) Introducing qualitative research in psychology adventures in theory and method. Retrieved from www.mcgrawhill.co.uk/openup/chapters/033520535
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