There are many branches of philosophy and the philosophy ofthe social sciences is one of them. It is the study of and a method in how wecan gain knowledge i.
e. epistemology (Carthwright and montuschit 2016) aboutthe social sciences, such as psychology, sociology, criminology etc. we gainthis knowledge through the use of philosophical questions. It answers thequestions that ‘need’ answering and that are social issues in the currentworld.
Explaining the differences between the natural and social sciences, forexample, is a philosophical question that would be answered in this branch ofphilosophy. How do we choose these philosophical questions? A quote made fromRosenberg states, that ‘. The positions scientists take on answers tophilosophical questions determine the questions they consider answerable byscience and choose to address, as well as the methods they employ to answerthem’ (Rosenberg).
This means that all social sciences, despite not being ableto answer the philosophical questions, have an assumption and opinion on whatthey believe to be the right answers, this is what encourages them to choosetheir questions, and decide on what it is that they want to answer.There are many issues in this world. We battle throughissues like poverty, war, racism, inequality, sexism and many more.
Socialscientists will study and answer questions about these issues, in order to gainand further knowledge on them for a greater cause. Therefore, making it a veryimportant reason as to why the philosophy of the social sciences is importantfor us social scientists. It means that we can create questions related to whyand how these issues began and ways in which we can prevent and reduce them inthe future. Philosophy allows us to do this.
It can help to make the worldbetter this way. If we didn’t ask ‘fundamental questions in this world thenthere would be less and less chance that our social issues would go away and beresolved, making this is a very important reason as to why and how philosophyin the social sciences is so important. Answering philosophical questions in the social scienceshelps to improve scientific research.
It is always looking into and trying toimprove theories, concepts, and arguments. By doing this they are all alwaysimproving. It considers the different ways in which we interpret and evaluatedata and strengthens them. Therefore, this makes it ever-more important so thatwe can always be improving on things and enhancing our skills and epistemology.By helping to justify arguments and theories we gain a better understanding ofsocial sciences overall.
There are manytheories just about everything in this world. By having the philosophy of thesocial sciences, we are given the skills to work with arguments and theories,we are able to critique and judge theories, helping to improve them and makethem better. It also allows us to make our own theories about the social worldand ask our own research questions. By practising with these new skills we areable to pick out the best and most relevant theories and ignore the bad and non-relevantones, this saves us a lot of time, and also means that we can focus our timesolely on the theories that are the most important and are the more effective.
We can basically get rid of the bad ones. This is another point as to why thephilosophy of the social sciences are important to the social scientists. A study conducted in 2015, about the importance of philosophybeing introduced into the social sciences, supported the idea that it is veryimportant to have for the social scientists. The study involved analysing Turkishuniversities, and finding out at what semester their social sciences studentswere taught about philosophy and research methods. They found from this that alot of the universities introduced it quite late into the semester, aroundabout semester 3 or 4 or sometimes even 5 or 6. They analysed these finding andthought about questions such as ‘are there any courses about the philosophy ofthe social sciences?’, ‘do curiosity and questioning have less of an importanceat Turkish Universities? etc.
From this they asked around 200 students who weretaught about the philosophy of social sciences and research methods after the 3semester. They were finally taught about research methods and about the naturaland social sciences, qualitative and Quantative research and many names ofresearchers and their work such as Comte and Weber. They were then asked to createa research draft in preparation of a scientific study.
From this they foundthat the students really struggled in finding things that they wanted toresearch and find things out about. They had no curiosity. This is due to themnever being taught to think about curiosity and questioning and having assumptionson world issues around them, which would help them to create a research question,as like Rosenburg states having assumptions helps you to choose your questionsto research. These students had never been taught how to express themselves andhave their own opinions on philosophical matters, as until that semester itdidn’t seem important.
However, this study has supported the idea that teachingphilosophy early on in the social sciences course benefits the student massively.It prepares them for when they use these philosophical thoughts in a real-lifecontext. Therefore, to summarise the teaching of philosophy in social sciencesneeds to be taught sooner into the course, which shows the importance of philosophyin the social sciences for the social scientists.In conclusion to this essay, the philosophy of the socialsciences are important to the social sciences because firstly they help tounderstand the complex social world we live in, and help to improve on ourunderstanding by answering the ‘fundamental’ questions that require answeringin order for these social issues to go away. Secondly it is important becauseit helps us to improve our scientific research, due to the ability tounderstand theories and analyse and evaluate concepts and arguments out forwardby other researchers about the social world.
We can focus on the good theoriesand eliminate the bad. Lastly thirdly, it is important due to proven findingfrom the study that teaching social scientists about philosophy and researchhelps them to understand the world better and sets them up early into makingthem be curious and question the world issues around them. This gives them assumptionsand opinions which helps them to create research questions that they want toanswer themselves in the future. Therefore philosophy of the social sciences is a good and efficientbranch for philosophy to have.