Author Topic: Postmodernism in social sciences?  (Read 1499 times)

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Offline Drakken

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Postmodernism in social sciences?
« on: May 01, 2009, 11:24:23 AM »
I was wondering if there has been any discussion on the SGU podcast about the pervasiveness of postmodernism and post-positivism in social sciences nowadays, especially in university departments.

Coming from Political Science, a few years ago I was doing my seminars for my Masters' Degree, but I got basically fed up with how some teachers could teach in the political science department when being proponents of post-positivism and rejecting the scientific method.

To me, a science, even social sciences, is a method of observation and understanding the physical world with our senses. Politics and human behaviors, even if they are abstract objects that are seen through the mind's eye, are nonetheless phenomena to observe objectively using the scientific method. Wars exist. Elections exist. Power struggle exists. Policies exists. Etc.

But as I watched and listen to teachers babble in their classes that it wasn't that certain that these phenomena were really objective, that they were relative to our culture and background, and that we had a certain cultural "framework" which biases our view, and that science was a Western point of view, it all made me kind of wanting to become very obnoxious. To me, post-positivism in social science sounded then, and still sounds now, as woo-woo talk for people who want to feel like a scientist without having the mental strength to use science. They reduce all social sciences to the level of feminist studies: anything goes, as long as you drink the antiscientific kool-aid.

I got into some heated debates with these teachers, basically defending the objectivistic "scientific" point of view, that politics, human relationships, institutions, and power behavior are objective things that, even if they do not exist as proper in the world (I cannot point to a State and touch it with my finger, for instance), they nonetheless exist in the human framework and, thus, can be observed and studied. There are basic human behaviors that couldn't be denied existed outside of any frame work, etc. But to no avail.

So I was wondering what the Rogues thought about post-positivism in social sciences today. Is it inherent to social sciences that they are intellectuals pretending to be scientists, or is it a science despite its hiccups?

How can students who are skeptics and who use the scientific framework argue against post-positivists and cultural relativists?

Should teachers who are proponents of post-positivism and, thus, rejects the scientific method be refused to teach and hold tenure in university departments in social science departments?

Thanks! :)
« Last Edit: May 01, 2009, 11:31:26 AM by Drakken »

Offline Alan

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Re: Postmodernism in social sciences?
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2009, 04:25:23 AM »
I remember that the general topic has been discussed several times, at least once in response to post-modern ideas that were sent to the show in an e-mail.

If I remember correctly, one of the times it was discussed was during the interview in episode #147 with Martin Rundkvist.
http://www.theskepticsguide.org/archive/podcastinfo.aspx?mid=1&pid=147

Somebody else might remember the other episodes.

 

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