• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Scientific approach to History

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

To what extent does the author substantiate his claim that the study of history can be pursued scientifically? We often argue that history, a social science, should not be approached using scientific method-experimentation and observation of empirical evidence to devise laws of nature. Jared Diamond, however, argues that the study of history can be pursued scientifically by pointing out the similarities between the methodology that the 2 disciplines adopt and the consequent difficulties that arise-law of causation, prediction, and complexity. The author suggests that both science and history employ the same methodology. Empirical evidence is fundamental to both areas of knowledge; similarly, reasoning, either to arrive at a general law (science) or to interpret and explain purpose and functions of events (history). He explains the similarity between understanding biological features and events leading up to wars to demonstrate the common basis they work on. ...read more.

Middle

Due to numerous variables simultaneously in action, he argues that the method can be equally effective (or ineffective) regardless of whether it is applied for science or history. However this argument is incomplete. It is true that there are difficulties, but scientists trying to establish a relationship between 2 variables, say, light intensity and rate of photosynthesis, can attempt to control other variables (concentration of carbon dioxide, light color, etc.) Meanwhile, it is almost impossible to control variables in human sciences-there is no guarantee that dwindling army force causes the general to sign a peace treaty-assuming all other factors constant, which is essentially impossible. Human's capricious nature may hinder the application of scientific method to historical studies. Diamond argues that the feasibility of prediction supports the view that scientific method is applicable to history. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, the variability of human mind and subjectivity of some historical concepts increase the complication: the scientific method is insufficient. It does not take into account the fact that the hypothesis can be corroborated or falsified depending on the human being involved, and also sometimes there is no clear boundary between "right" or "wrong". This diminishes the effectiveness of scientific method which works on revision of obsolete concepts and derivation of new ones. Although Diamond has, to a certain extent, discuss the link between scientific and historical method, it is not convincing enough that historical study can be scientifically pursued. Despite being a part of the historical method due to certain common elements, scientific method is not complete and complex enough to fully achieve the goal of history. Word count: 689 ?? ?? ?? ?? Nguyet Nguyen Do Minh (Na) 11EMW October 31th, 2009 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge essays

  1. Are scientific models useful, despite their inaccuracies?

    However this type of map would be very impractical when searching for a street, or when looking for say, a Chinese restaurant. However this map displays the names of the streets as well as locations of Chinese restaurants around the city.

  2. ToK Essay What similarities and differences are there between historical and scientific explanations?

    Conclusion Synthesize all said previously focusing mostly on the most important point. The conclusion will be more easily written once the body of the essay is complete. Main points: * Integration deductive and inductive method in science and history * Reasoning in history is made up of hypothesis * Science

  1. What similarities and differences are there between historical and scientific explanations?

    Any observation made for a scientific explanation will concentrate on explaining present natural concepts that occur around us. In contrast, historical explanations and observation with their focus on the past do not seem to have an immediate practical value. It is justifiable that historical explanations give us a sense of

  2. Describe the development of a scientific theory, highlighting the process involved. Differentiate between ...

    Each of the current species adapted to the habitat on their island and developed a different type of beak.There are also other areas that he found to support his idea: fossil evidence, geological theories and biological observations made by others.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work