Objectivity in the Human and Behavioral Sciences [Chapter 4 of Objectivity]

In Objectivity. Cambridge, UK; Malden, MA: Polity Press; Wiley. pp. 109-136 (2016)
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Abstract

Contentious debate has played out in the ‘science wars’ generally, but perhaps nowhere has the possibility and value of objectivity been more controversial than in respect to the social sciences and historiography, the writing of history. Most of the individual social sciences took shape and became academic disciplines during the 19th century, and the issue of differences between studying humankind and studying the natural world goes back at least this far as well. How should we understand the relationship between the human and natural sciences? Do the human and natural science share a common methodology, or are they quite dissimilar? If the “sciences of man, of society, and the state,” as Dilthey called the social sciences, try to emulate the physical sciences in their methods, will they perhaps miss what is distinctive about human existence? These and other questions are examined in Chapter 4.

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Guy Axtell
Radford University

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