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The methodological apparatus of natural sciences Essay


Thesis statement

The idea that the methodological apparatus of natural sciences is being procedurally inconsistent with the aims of human sciences cannot be referred to as particularly innovative.

Therefore, it comes as not a particular surprise that, as of today, a number of social scientists continue to reflect upon the qualitative nature of social, political, cultural, and historical processes from essentially anti-scientific prospective, while denying the appropriateness of utilization of methods and procedures of natural sciences in the field of social research.

In its turn, this does not only undermine the scientific validity of anti-positivist human studies, but also makes their semantic content quite unintelligible.

For example, even though there have been a number of social studies, conducted on the subject of what represent motivational factors behind Hispanic students’ lowered rate of academic achievement, the results of these studies are best referred to as utterly inconclusive (we will refer to this thesis later).

Apparently, the quality of today’s social research is being hindered by social scientists’ inability to understand a simple fact that, just as is it is being the case with plants and animals, the representatives of Homo Sapiens specie, and consequently the qualitative essence of human societies’ functioning, never cease to be subjected to objectively existing laws of nature.

In our paper, we will aim at exploring the validity of an earlier suggestion at length, while pointing out to the fact that the idea that human sciences should emulate the methods and procedures of natural sciences is absolutely legitimate.

Moreover, we will also aim to show there is no well-defined limit to the extent to which the methods of social/human research may follow the methods of natural research. The soundness of paper’s hypothesis will be exemplified in regards to how subjects matter of human sciences can assessed through methodological framework of Physics, Biology and Mathematics.

Main part

Even as far back as during the course of thirties, Collingwood (1936) was able to rationalize methodological inconsistency between human and natural sciences, while suggesting that the developmental context of human history alters the subtleties of how people perceive societal aspects of their existence.

Given the fact that, throughout 20th century’s second half, the concept of evolutionary positivism has been increasingly looked upon as ‘immoral’, due to apparent euro-centrism of its theoretical premises, it comes as not a particular surprise that this historical period is being marked with the emergence of clearly anti-positivist social theories, the proponents of which used to make point in rejecting the idea that objectively existing laws of nature define the qualitative essence of human history.

For example, according to one of the most prominent advocates of historical anti-positivism Juergen Habermas (1988), there no good reasons to refer to Darwinian Theory of Evolution as representing fully objective conceptual foundation, upon which the theoretical premise of modern biology should be based.

Apparently, the main objection to the idea that the methodological framework of natural sciences is being fully compatible with that of social sciences derives out of social scientists’ assumption that the qualitative aspects of how people interact with surrounding realities cannot be discussed outside of currently dominant socio-political discourse.

According to Foucault (1978), it is namely predominant socio-political discourse, which adds to the validity of just about any scientific idea or alternatively – undermines the extent of such idea’s scientifically validated soundness.

While utilizing their intellect to address life’s challenges, people subconsciously aim to reinforce the soundness of their earlier acquired worldviews.

In their turn, these worldviews affect the manner in which people perceive universe and in their place in it – hence, creating objective preconditions for even empirical sciences to be affected by a certain degree of experiential relativism.

According to Mills (1959), it is not only that past experiences define the particulars of how people perceive present, but also affect the way in which people will access the significance of their future experiences.

Therefore, it comes as not a particular surprise that even today, many social scientists continue to remain utterly skeptical as to idea that human mind is being fully capable of discovering the ‘truth’, in societal sense of this word.

According to Strauss (1953), the majority of social scientists never cease being utterly skeptical towards the idea that one’s rationale is being fully capable of addressing the dichotomy between fundamental and ‘cultural’ emanations of life.

In its turn, in the eyes of particularly ‘progressive’ social scientists, this validates their disbelieving attitude towards the appropriateness of utilization of naturalistic approach to defining the essence of socio-cultural, political and economic dynamics within just about any human society.

Apparently, these individuals are being absolutely serious while rejecting the idea that human societies’ functioning can be assed from strictly materialistic perspective as, according to them, the factor of ‘conscientiousness’ plays rather significant role in defining the manner of how members of human societies interact with each other.

And, it goes without saying, of course, that the term ‘conscientiousness’ implies perceptional ambivalence. Therefore, it is fully explainable why in time when many human sciences, such as psychology, were in the process of being methodologically perfected, a number of Western prominent intellectuals used to believe that this process will eventually result in revealing the outdatedness of naturalistic methodological approach.

As Weber (1946) used to insist, natural sciences are only being capable of providing people with answers to purely technical dilemmas, while leaving the question ‘what is the purpose of one’s life?’ quite unaddressed.

Nevertheless, it does not represent much of a challenge to expose such point of view as conceptually fallacious. The reason for this is simple – it is namely people’s physical existence that presupposes their endowment with metaphysical conscientiousness.

As it was noted by Outhwaite (1992), even before the emergence of Homo Sapiens specie, the most fundamental laws of nature operated in the same way they do now.

And, it is namely these laws that define the essence of people’s societal attitudes, not the other way around. This is exactly why, contrary to what many social scientists believe, when it comes to defining the fundamental nature of society’s inner dynamics, one may very well refer to the basic laws of Physics.

It is important to understand the actual force behind universe’s functioning, as we know it, is the disparity between energetic potentials. According to The Second Law of Thermodynamics, the amount of entropy in the universe is geometrically proportionate the extent of energy’s dissipation, throughout the cosmos.

Given the fact that human societies consist of physically material individuals, The Second Law of Thermodynamics applies to these societies as much as it applies to just about any energetically depended material system.

Therefore, it is namely the continuous differentiation between society members’ existential potentials, which keeps such a society on the path on social, economic and cultural progress.

What it means is that, while being assessed through the lenses of Physics (natural science), all of today’s neo-Marxian discourses, concerned with ‘combating poverty’ and with ‘ensuring fair distribution of wealth’, appear utterly anti-scientific, and therefore socially counter-productive.

The reason for this is simple – the term ‘equality’ is being synonymous to the term ‘entropy’, and the term ‘entropy’ is being synonymous to the notion of death.

In its turn, this explains why there is no even a single historical instance of Socialism having proven its practical effectiveness, as political ideology.

Therefore, had the proponents of a ‘welfare state’, who are now being put in position of designing socio-political policies in many Western countries, been aware of even basic physical laws, they would not be quite as eager enforcing ‘equality’, because then, they would be able to recognize what will account for the eventual consequences of their political activities.

Apparently, the very fact that natural laws (in our case physical) are biasless makes them absolutely suitable to be applied within the context of trying to solve some social dilemma.

As it was rightly suggested by Taylor (1985), empirical science is being utterly dispassionate towards what might account for natural laws’ social implications, which is why it is specifically these laws that should be regarded as such that represent an objective truth-value. In other words, if they had a chance, physicists would have proven themselves much more effective as social scientists then many social scientists per se – whatever the ironic it might sound.

The same can be said about the practitioners of another natural science – biology. For example, as of today, there have been hundreds if not thousands of sociological, linguistic, historical, psychological and culturological studies, conducted on the subject of representatives’ of racial minorities lowered rate of academic achievement, whose authors had nevertheless failed at exposing the actual reasons behind many ‘ethnically-unique’ students’ clearly defined inability to succeed in studying, simply because, while proceeding with these studies, authors strived to remain well within the boundaries of ‘political correctness’.

And, the reason for this is simple – while elaborating on controversial topics, most social scientists aim to do it from ‘value-neutral’ perspective. This, however, does not lessen the extent of their argumentative biasness. According to Rorty (1987), when the subject of a scientific discussion is being concerned with people, it automatically provides rationale to refer to such a discussion as necessarily ‘evaluative’.

And, since perceptional ‘evaluativeness’ simply cannot be avoided, one may as well proceed with evaluating the essence of social phenomena from naturalistic perspective, as the most objective and dispassionate one.

Therefore, had social scientists been introduced to the basics of biology, as fully objective natural science, they would know that one’s ability to succeed in academia is being rather genetically then environmentally predetermined.

Apparently, it is utterly inappropriate to refer to people’s inability to score high, while IQ tested, as such that derive out of their low social status.

On the contrary, people’s low social status is the immediate consequence of their evolutionary underdevelopment, extrapolated in their lowered capacity to operate with abstract categories (low IQ), which in its turn, explains why the extent of every country’s economic well-being reflects the particulars of its population’s racial makeup.

Therefore, for biologists, the sheer absurdity of institutionalization of ‘affirmative action’ policies, meant to enforce non-White and non-Asian citizens’ educational equality in Western multicultural societies, appears perfectly clear – the ultimate consequence of this policy’s official legitimatization will be the continuous lowering of Western educational standards.

The fact that the methodology of human sciences is being often concerned with procedural utilization of such vaguely defined categories as ‘morality’ and ‘ethics’, naturally predisposes social scientists towards indulgence in methodologically fallacious theorizing.

This is exactly the reason why; whereas, the laws of natural sciences are being fully objective (such as The Universal Law of Gravity, for example), the ‘laws’ of human sciences never cease being the subject of various interpretations, which significantly undermines the extent of these laws’ operational objectiveness and which points out to these laws’ validity as being largely circumstantial.

The validity of an earlier suggestion can also be illustrated in regards to psychologists and sociologists’ apparent failure in defining the actual causes behind the process of urban ‘ghettoization’, fueled by ethnic immigrants’ tendency to settle within the boundaries of racially segregated conclaves, which in its turn, results in creation of ‘societies within society’ – a phenomenon, known to the residents of just about every Western large city.

Nowadays, most social scientists refer to this phenomenon as such that signifies ethnic immigrants’ commitment to ‘celebration of diversity’. Nevertheless, once we refer to an earlier articulated thesis that, since human societies are essentially material and functionally systemic, it is fully appropriate to assess these societies’ inner dynamics through methodological matrix of natural sciences; it will appear that there is nothing particularly odd with such ethnic immigrants’ tendency. Let us elaborate on this suggestion at length.

In 1964, one of 20th century’s greatest mathematicians and simultaneously the co-founder of Cybernetics William Ashby formulated the so-called Law of Requisite Variety, which can be articulated in utterly simplified and yet fully descriptive manner – variety destroys a variety. If, for example, a hypothetical farmer had stopped tending a hypothetical wheat field, it would be only the matter of time, before various weeds begin to grow in that field.

Moreover, the quality of wheat grains would be reduced from generation to generation, as wheat cannot grow properly while being surrounded by weeds.

This is because wheat field’s ‘variety’ is lesser than the ‘variety’ of the surrounding environment. If the field was to be left unattended for a year or two, the new environmental balance would be established, with weeds being spread evenly throughout the field and with some wheat beginning to grow in areas adjacent to the field.

Given the fact that, as we have mentioned earlier, human society is nothing but an example of energetically open system, the qualitative essence of its inner dynamics correspond to how system’s complexity interacts with the complexity of surrounding environment.

In other words, in order for social system to maintain its stability, system’s complexity cannot be lower than that of the surrounding environment. When society’s complexity is higher than that of geopolitical environment, it begins to export its complexity into environment (the colonization of Third World countries by Westerners).

However, when the complexity of a social system appears to be lower than the complexity of geopolitical environment (in our case, due to Westerners being deprived of their existential vitality), the environment begins to export its complexity into the system (the colonization of Western countries by legal and illegal immigrants from the Third World).

Therefore, the reason why ethnic immigrants prefer to settle within the boundaries of racially secluded ‘ghettos’ is that, by being such ghettos’ residents, they are able to take full advantage of the lessened extent of host-society’s systemic complexity – pure and simple.

Thus; whereas, sociology-based Immigrant Spatial Assimilation Theory fails at explaining what prevents ethnic immigrants from being able to integrate into the host-society (it treats such their tendency as essentially phenomenological), the mathematical Law of Requisite Variety explains driving force behind ‘ghettoization’ with perfect clarity.

In its turn, this serves as an additional proof as to the full soundness of an idea that there is nothing conceptually inappropriate about methodology of natural sciences being utilized by social scientists.

Therefore, despite clearly rhetorical essence of Runciman’s (1971) rhetorical speculation that, due to natural scientists’ tendency to refer to people as ‘things’, it would not be morally justifiable allowing them to do so, the soundness of an idea that people may indeed be treated as ‘things’ can be positively asserted.

The reason for this is simple – given the fact that people are social beings; their behavioral patterns are best referred to as highly systemic.

What it means is that these patterns could be easily predicted, especially when social researchers prove themselves intellectually honest enough not to be making references to ‘soul’, ‘morality’, ‘ethics’ and other essentially meaningless notions, while utilizing naturalistic research-methodology.

As Gray (1983) had pointed out to, the very matrix of naturalistic methodology does not feature any value-commitments, which presupposes the high extent of its operational applicability, even in domain of social sciences.

Unfortunately, even today, many social scientists experience a particularly hard time while coming to terms with the idea that the representatives of Homo Sapiens specie are nothing but hairless apes, endowed with intellect (some of them are being endowed with only primitive ‘situational’ intellect).

And, such their endowment is being purely instrumental, which is why, as it is being the case with representatives of just about every sub-specie of primates, people’s foremost priorities in life are being solely concerned with spreading their genes, ensuring their dominant position on the ladder of social hierarchy and with experiencing sensual pleasures.

Conclusion

We believe that the earlier provided line of argumentation, in defense of an idea that human sciences might in fact emulate the methods and procedures of the natural sciences, substantiate the soundness of paper’s initial thesis.

It is fully understandable that, due to people’s anthroposophic egoism, only few of them would be willing to be referred to as simply structural elements of larger thermodynamically functioning systems. This, however, does not make them being less of ‘elements’, while assessed through methodological lenses of natural sciences.

It is understood, of course, that this idea will not find adherents among moralistically minded social scientists. And yet, as we have shown earlier, there is nothing conceptually inappropriate about such an idea.

The methods of natural sciences are indeed being consistent with the methods of social sciences and those who think otherwise appear to lack intellectual honesty to admit this simple fact.

Nevertheless, the very essence of historical dialectics leave very little doubt as to the fact that it is only the matter of time, before the validity of the line of paper’s line of argumentation, in defense of its initial thesis, will be recognized as thoroughly objective.

References

Ashby W 1964, Introduction to cybernetics, London, Routledge Kegan & Paul.

Collingwood RG 1936, Human nature and human history. Oxford University Press, London.

Foucault M 1978, The history of sexuality, Pantheon, New York.

Gray J 1983, ‘Political Power, Social Theory, and Essential Contestability’, in D Miller & L Siedentop (eds.) The Nature of Political Theory, Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Habermas J 1988, Theory and practice, Beacon Press, Boston.

Mills CW 1959, The Sociological Imagination, Oxford University Press, New York.

Outhwaite, W 1992, ‘New philosophies of social science: Realism, hermeneutics and critical theory’, in A Giddens (ed.) Contemporary Social Theory, MacMillan Education, London.

Rorty R 1987, ‘Method, Social Science and Social Hope’, in MT Gibbons (ed.) Interpreting Politics, Basil Blackwell, Oxford.

Runciman WG 1971, Social science and political theory, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Strauss, L 1953, Natural right and history, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Taylor C 1985, Philosophy and the human sciences, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Weber, M 1946, ‘Science as a vocation’, In HH Gerth and CW Mills (ed.) Max Weber: Essays in sociology, Oxford University Press, New York.

This Essay on The methodological apparatus of natural sciences was written and submitted by user Nolan Newton to help you with your own studies. You are free to use it for research and reference purposes in order to write your own paper; however, you must cite it accordingly.

Nolan Newton studied at the University at Albany, State University of New York, USA, with average GPA 3.69 out of 4.0.

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Newton, N. (2019, December 5). The methodological apparatus of natural sciences [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-methodological-apparatus-of-natural-sciences/

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Newton, Nolan. "The methodological apparatus of natural sciences." IvyPanda, 5 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/the-methodological-apparatus-of-natural-sciences/.

1. Nolan Newton. "The methodological apparatus of natural sciences." IvyPanda (blog), December 5, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-methodological-apparatus-of-natural-sciences/.


Bibliography


Newton, Nolan. "The methodological apparatus of natural sciences." IvyPanda (blog), December 5, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-methodological-apparatus-of-natural-sciences/.

References

Newton, Nolan. 2019. "The methodological apparatus of natural sciences." IvyPanda (blog), December 5, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-methodological-apparatus-of-natural-sciences/.

References

Newton, N. (2019) 'The methodological apparatus of natural sciences'. IvyPanda, 5 December.

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