Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with questions about being and reality
Empiricism accepts personal experiences associated with observation, feelings and senses as a valid source of knowledge, whereas rationalism relies on empirical findings gained through valid and reliable measures as a source of knowledge.
Once you accept a specific epistemology, you need to employ associated research methods. The table below describes important aspects of epistemologies of the main research philosophies related to business research:. Focus on practical applied research, integrating different perspectives to help interpret the data. Pragmatism Only observable phenomena can provide credible data, facts. Focus on causality and law-like generalisations, reducing phenomena to simplest elements Positivism Observable phenomena provide credible data, facts.
Insufficient data means inaccuracies in sensations direct realism. Alternatively, phenomena create sensations which are open to misinterpretation critical realism. Realism Subjective meanings and social phenomena. Focus upon the details of situation, a reality behind these details, subjective meanings, motivating actions Interpretivism Epistemology of popular research philosophies in business research . In your dissertation you are expected to address and clarify the epistemology of your study, but you are not expected to go much into the details.
You are expected to do the following:. You need to provide a definition of epistemology for an undergraduate, bachelor-level dissertation. If you are writing an MBA dissertation or a PhD thesis you need to provide several definitions by referring to relevant sources. You need to discuss what is accepted and what is not accepted as knowledge in your research. It is important to justify your arguments by referring to research aim and objectives.
You have to specify research philosophy and research methods that correspond to your chosen epistemology. For example, if you only accept observable phenomena based on data and facts as knowledge, your research philosophy would be positivism. Alternatively, if you consider subjective meanings and non-quantifiable data as knowledge, you would have to follow interpretivism research philosophy. Main menu Skip to primary content. Skip to secondary content. Scientific realism is the doctrine that science aims at the objective truth about reality. It is a commonsense view, but often difficult to uphold.
Anti-realists maintain a variety of alternative accounts, such as that science aims only at predicting and systematizing what we can observe, the unobservable being irrelevant. Another type of anti-realism claims that science is a human construction, not a description of an independent realm.
Bas van Fraassen contributed much to the anti-realist side. Ian Hacking has been influential in distinguishing ordinary realism from "entity realism," where one accepts the reality of entities, such as electrons, because we can manipulate them, without accepting statements about theoretical entities as also being true. Anjan Chakravartty recently proposed a view he calls semi-realism, in contrast to so-called structural realism, an account that is currently of much interest. The philosophy of biology is concerned with a variety of issues ranging from the nature of species, the role of biology in human behaviour and culture, the role of genetics, and the relation of biology to physics and chemistry.
Lisa Gannett has done important work on the notion of biological classification and its social significance, Brian Hall has worked on homology, and Stuart Kauffman on biological complexity. The philosophical physicist, Lee Smolin, has used Darwinian evolution to explain certain features of cosmology.
Concept of philosophy
The philosophy of physics focuses on foundational issues in special and general relativity and the nature of spacetime, in quantum mechanics, in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, and in other physical theories. The conceptual issues in these various fields are challenging and require technical mastery as well as philosophical skill.
Among the more prominent topics are: Is spacetime absolute, that is, a thing in its own right? Or is it a system of relations among physical bodies, so that if there were no bodies and no events, there would be no spacetime? Does the realm of quantum theory exist independently from ourselves and our measurements? Or do we somehow create the very things that we measure, rather than discover what is already there? These questions are as difficult as they are interesting. A large number of Canadians have made significant contributions to further answering these questions: Richard Arthur time , Jeffrey Bub quantum logic, quantum computing , William Demopoulos quantum logic , Allan Stairs quantum logic , Robert DiSalle spacetime , Wayne Myrvold quantum foundations , Rob Clifton quantum foundations , David Sharp quantum foundations , Ferrell Christensen time , Kent Peacock spacetime and quantum mechanics , Storrs McCall time , Mario Bunge foundational issues in several diverse fields , Chris Smeenk spacetime , Robert Batterman models in physics , Doreen Fraser quantum field theory , Steve Weinstein quantum gravity , Alex Reuger quantum mechanics , Robert Coleman and Herbert Korte spacetime , Josh Mozersky time , Dan MacArthur quantum theory , Joseph Berkovitz quantum mechanics , Andrew Wayne quantum field theory , Jessica Wilson classical mechanics , Steve Savitt time , and Margaret Morrison symmetry, unification.
A number of Canadian physicists have contributed significantly to philosophical aspects of physics: Lee Smolin spacetime, cosmology , John Sipe quantum mechanics , Robert Spekkens quantum mechanics. In recent years there has been much fruitful interaction between physicists and philosophers. To some extent this is because issues that were dismissed by physicists as "metaphysical" have turned out to have experimental consequences. The moral to draw from this is that the boundary between science and philosophy is rather fuzzy.
Philosophers and physicists may emphasize different things, but they are engaged in a common pursuit. Increasingly, philosophers have engaged with cognitive science -- the study of mental operations in their cognitive rather than purely behavioural or neurological aspects. At one time, such interaction was confined to the question of determinism. John Thorp and Ted Honderich were important contributors.
More recently, philosophers have not only analysed and conceptually explored cognitive psychology and its methodologies, but also contributed key ideas to psychology. Zenon Pylyshyn, Ausonio Marras, and Paul Thagard studied the conceptual apparatus of cognitive science. A wide range of significant contributions have come from Ronnie de Sousa emotions , Mohan Matthen perception , Jim McGilvray Chomsky and linguistics , William Seager consciousness , Robert Wilson externalist theories of mind , Evan Thompson enactive theories of mind , Rob Stainton language and mind , and Andrew Brooke cognition.
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Intensive and well-known studies of more circumscribed concepts have been undertaken by Donald Dedrick and Kathleen Akins colour and colour vision , Ian Gold cognitive deficits , Luc Faucher and Tim Schroeder emotion , Diana Raffman music perception , and Daniel Kahneman reasoning heuristics, Nobel Prize in Economics. Notable recent arrivals to Canada include Murat Aydede consciousness, pain and Eric Margolis concepts.
The philosophy of mathematics is concerned with metaphysical questions concerning the nature of mathematical objects and with epistemic questions concerning how we acquire knowledge of them. Since we do not see or otherwise make contact with mathematical entities numbers, sets, functions , as we do with physical objects rocks, planets, electrons , these turn out to be highly puzzling questions.
How, after all, do we come to know anything about numbers? The spectrum of views is very wide, from thinking mathematical objects are objectively real and independent from us Platonism to thinking they are somehow a human creation. It is commonly thought that the one and only source of evidence in mathematics is proof, understood to be a logical derivation from axioms or first principles.
Epistemology - Research-Methodology
But what about evidence from physics or from diagrams? And what about very long and complex computer proofs, which we can't, strictly speaking, follow, because of their enormous length?
Canadian philosophers of mathematics and mathematicians who work on these philosophical issues include: Michael Hallett Hilbert and formalism , Emily Carson Kantian approaches , John Bell topos theory, non-stand mathematics , William Demopoulos Frege and logicism , Andrew Irvine naturalism , Jean-Pierre Marquis category theory , Yvon Gauthier constructive approaches , Mathieu Marion finitism, Wittgenstein , Elaine Landry category theory , Bernard Linsky naturalism and Platonism , Alasdair Urquhart formalism, constructivism , James Robert Brown visualization, Platonism , Sarah Hoffman fictionalism , and Michael Slawinski nature of applied mathematics.
Although ethical issues arising from clinical practice in medicine have captured the most philosophical attention, crucial and important epistemological and methodological issues are of fundamental and crucial importance to clinical and scientific medicine. Medicine is a broad and varied enterprise. Areas such as physiology, haematology the study of blood , immunology the study of the immune system and immune responses , endocrinology the study of hormone systems and medical genetics share similar methodologies and epistemological features with non-medical biological sciences.
On the other hand, clinical practice areas such as family medicine are quite dissimilar to non-medical biological sciences and medical sciences themselves, such as those mentioned above. As a result, different philosophical issues arise in clinical medicine and medical sciences.
For example, clinical medicine relies heavily on randomised controlled trials RCTs to determine the efficacy of pharmaceutical and lifestyle interventions. Philosophers of science have recently questioned the logical, mathematical probabilistic and statistical and epistemological assumptions used to justify reliance on RCTs. Medical sciences rely much less on RCTs and employ models and theories to understand and explain the nature, function and malfunction of the various organs, cells, fluids, proteins and systems e. Philosophers of science have contributed significantly to the understanding of the nature of such models and theories and the powerful role they play in explaining and predicting aspects of health, disease and therapy.
Susan Sherwin and Francoise Baylis have done extensive work on bioethics, often tying it to issues of medical methodology. Paul Thagard and Charles Weijer have both contributed to a wide variety of methodological issues in medicine. The social sciences including: economics, sociology, history, and anthropology are often distinguished from the natural sciences and thought to be fundamentally different. Humans are self-interpreting and our beliefs about ourselves can have an effect on ourselves. By contrast, our beliefs about electrons presumably have no effect on how electrons behave.
The opposing view takes the social sciences to be like the natural sciences, subject to the same general methods. In either case, questions of objectivity are central to philosophical concern with the social sciences. In addition, the individual social sciences have their own particular issues. Thus, is game theory a useful tool for economics, or does it miss too much of real human concern?
What Is Epistemology?
Can different human cultures be understood from the outside, or must true understanding only come by "going native"? Canadian philosophers addressing these issues include: Charles TAYLOR explanation of behaviour , David Braybrooke methodology, democratic theory , Frank Cunningham objectivity, democratic theory , Jonathan Bennett rationality , William DRAY historical understanding , Robert Nadeau economics , Ian Jarvie objectivity , Alison Wylie feminism, anthropology, archaeology , Karyn Freedman feminism, methodology , Alex Michalos quality of life, social values , Joseph Berkovitz decision theory, economics , Oliver Schulte game theory , Margaret Schabas history of economics , and Ian Hacking social kinds, transient mental illness.
Values can arise in the sciences in several different ways. Some of these are ethical, others aesthetic, some are more social and political, and yet others are epistemic. For instance, how should laboratory animals be treated, or should human subject give informed consent? However, values can also make it into the very content of a theory, as clearly happens when we consider notions of health and disease. What counts as a disease is an inextricable mix of biological fact and social norms about what is desirable.