Philosophical Foundations of Research Methods in Social Sciences: A Critical Approach
This paper concentrated upon a critical examination of the philosophical foundations of research methods, particularly the epistemological and methodological assumptions that underlie different research traditions. It is argued that without theory there is nothing to do, scientifically. In addition, Hargreaves emphasizes that there is a considerable amount of second rate educational research which (a) dose not makes a serious contribution to fundamental theory or knowledge (b) is irrelevant to practice (c) is uncoordinated with any proceeding or follow-up research and (d) clutters up academic journal that virtually nobody read. According to the philosophical underpinnings and the quote from Hargreaves above, this paper make a reference to common fallacies in social research regarding the relationship between theory and practice believing that this is a realist approach to research method, although, in a transcendental sense. The major purpose of this article is exploring the effect of methodological theories on the research method in social sciences. At this time, there are two major perspectives (methodological theory) that could be considered as philosophical foundations of the research methods in social sciences: 1- Empiricism, include positivism and critical rationalism 2- interpretive approach. However, the general purpose of this paper is to examine the critical rationalism challenge to positivism in social research. The preliminary results indicate that there are some binary oppositional ideas on the methodological theories. Comparing two methodological theories, positivism and critical rationalism, thus, will be done in terms of the major themes. The fundamental terms are, subjectivity versus objectivity, certainty versus relativity, deductive thinking versus inductive thinking, neutral versus theory-laden methodology, questional versus problematic characteristic of scientific method, hypothesis versus proposition and top-down versus bottom-up approach to social research.
Keywords: Methodological theory, Research Method, Positivism, Post-positivism
Dr. Bakhtiar Shabani Varaki
Associate Professor, Faculty of Education and Psychology, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad