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September 12, 2013 Lecture Notes 3N06doc

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McMaster University
Political Science
Todd Alway

September 12, 2013 Political Science 3N06 T HURSDAY , 12 S EPTEMBER 2013 Political Science 3N06 2013 Lecture 2b: Are the social and natural worlds analogous? Does meaning matter? How can we know that world and access knowledge: Positivism – is based upon a number of premises, there is an objective world out there that exists outside of our consciousness; that is stable and predictable; we can know this world through logic. Natural versus social world; Analogous; certain regularity in the natural world; universally true things about the natural world; certain pattern regularities, certain causes that have certain effects. Positivism only works if you can separate facts from values; unless you can identify facts (the things that actually are), unless you can do that our goal of constructing can’t be done. Critiques – Popper’s critique • Normal scientific process based upon observing and coming up with a general theory • Shortcoming in logic and reality; • The idea that we can verify things by accumulating more evidence • Notion that you are capable of observing a phenomenon; • Times when empirically speaking – confirming evidence that all swans are white, but one black swan disproves; verifying hypothesis is difficult; we should try to falsify; Positivism – Ideological structure and a so-called paradigm; assumptions that we have about the way the world works; Paradigm colors the questions that we have, the interpretation that we have on the evidence; • Science is produced on the social environment • Modern scientific enterprise there are still these social facts that channel certain kinds of questions and conclusions and certain truths may not ever be disseminated; simply because of the social apparatus; the journal committees tend to property certain views of the world; POSITIVISM AND NATURALISM Social world and natural world analogous – is there anything about the social world somehow demarcates what it is and how we know it: 1 September 12, 2013 Political Science 3N06 - Why is the study of the social world so different than the natural world? - Development in the social world; is this operating differently? Something that cannot be explained by causal law; - Epistemological and ontological - What we can know of the world and what the nature of the social world is? EPISTEMOLOGICAL; • What can the scientist actually know about the social world? • Social scientist embedded in the social world; • If you are embedded in the social world, is it possible to analyze this world without preconceived attitudes; • Realities of the social world; • Gender is a social construct; male or female • Social conventions on which you are socialized; ONTOLOGICAL; • Does it matter that we are human beings; • Human beings have the capacity to learn from experiences, and if they’re subject to the same stimuli might behave differently and ability to reflect upon the fact that they’re studied by people; • Disseminating the social law; that scientist has affected what they’ve previously studied; • Countries that had communist revolutions; In publishing a model in the way the world works; theory of political realism; states look out for their own interest and if they do not maximize their own powers will be eliminated according to evolution; o If theory sounds convincing can change policy makers; o Ideas are important, human agency is important o Economy international system; how can you come up with general laws of social life; the types of patterns you see in the social world are different; scientific image of the world is clockwise, mechanical; Is the social world analogous to the natural world? - I) The Scientist as a Human Being - Does it make a difference that scientists – whether in the natural or the social sciences o Are human beings? 2 September 12, 2013 Political Science 3N06 - Is it possible for someone saturated by the social world to step outside of that world and view it objectively? - Is the mind a (even potentially) blank tablet on which the world objectively writes itself? - For critics of the positivist approach, observation is mediated through experience, language, culture - The categories through which observation takes place are themselves saturated with pre-scientific assumptions - II) The Human Being as Agent - Are the natural and social worlds analogous at the level of what exists? - After all, unlike physical objects (rocks, trees, etc), social objects (democracy, capitalism, state) are constituted by self-conscious human agents - Agency means that human beings can act “differently under the same stimuli” - Social science itself can play a role in changing the social object it is studying by making agents aware of the conditions under which they live and giving them the ability to change their behaviour under those same conditions Interpretive Social Science - The natural and social worlds are not analogous - Consequently, we cann
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