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Epistemology of Social Sciences and International Relations.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Introduction Social sciences, as all sciences, have their own epistemology, methodology and philosophy. Epistemology is the study of the foundations of knowledge and philosophy is the theoretical background of each science. There have been many criticisms about the substance of the social sciences especially from the positivists. They try all the time to convince everybody that a science which has no rules and natural laws can not be called 'science'. Epistemology and philosophy function as repulsion to the attempts of the positivists. They help us to understand and explain that social sciences are not natural sciences with inviolable laws; nevertheless they are a different kind of science that is based on a theoretical background and have to do with human behavior and reaction that can not be determined by any rule. Additionally, in the study of International Relations that is a part of the social sciences the situation is about the same. In which way and in what extend epistemology and philosophy of the social sciences help us to understand the discipline of International Relations? This is a question that will be answered in the continuity of this paper. Epistemology of Social Sciences and International Relations 'Epistemology is the technical term for the theory of knowledge'.1 Knowledge is a very important issue for someone who wants to understand the study of social sciences. ...read more.

Middle

Another issue that should be mentioned is the role of the observer. The analysts and social scientists themselves are also human beings. They have their own values, believes, they support certain theories and are part of certain groups of interests. For making an accurate analysis over anything in social sciences someone has to step out of all these and make the observations from a neutral point of view. So the analysts must be very careful and they should not let their personal characteristics to intervene and affect their research. Philosophy of Social Science and International Relations What are we doing when we attempt to study human social life in a systematic way? Can there be an objective knowledge of society when the investigators as well as the subject-matter are all part of the society? These are some questions that rule the philosophy of social sciences. 'Philosophical questions are the kinds of questions we ask when we are being reflexive about our own disciplines'4 The philosophy of social sciences provides to the researchers of this field of study some tools so that they are aware of what they are doing exactly. The first tool is the technical term "ontology", which is the answer to the question: what kinds of things are there in the social world? ...read more.

Conclusion

Conclusion In this paper, there has been an attempt to be explained the contribution of epistemology and philosophy of social sciences to the understanding of the discipline of International Relations. My opinion is that the whole answer is clear. Despite the fact that this is a short paper, there are evidences that their contribution is very significant. To study a science, firstly you have to understand what exactly you are dealing with, in which way you have to analyze your subject and even know the limitations of your science. The knowledge of all these and the knowledge of the studies of other scientists of your field that have been made in the past should be the base for each researcher of social sciences, hence of International Relations. This is however the way of the production of theories. For reaching to a new theory every social scientist has to know the existing theories that try to explain the function of a system. Having them in mind he/she can choose the points of each theory that he/she agrees or disagrees finally develop his/her own theory. In International relations any analyst or even political leader, in order to understand the actions of other states that may have a different political system than theirs, they have to analyze and realize the philosophy of that system. In this way they may react with other political leaders without having misunderstandings. ...read more.

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