Earl Babbie

Topics: Scientific method, Science, Social sciences Pages: 5 (1806 words) Published: February 3, 2011
Babbie indicated eight (8) criteria must be met by a discipline for it to be classified as a science. Identify and discuss this statement.

“Science is best defined as a careful, disciplined, logical search for knowledge about any and all aspects of the universe, obtained by examination of the best available evidence and always subject to correction and improvement upon [the] discovery of better evidence.” – James Randi (1987)

Earl R. Babbie advocated that a discipline became a science when it collectively placed increased emphasis on systematic questioning of an event or situation or occurrence instead of in its description. This may be achieved through discreet observation of a social or natural phenomenon or phenomena; formulation of ideas and theories; and usage of methodologies. Babbie proposed eight (8) criteria a discipline should follow in order to become a science. The criteria which I will expound on in this essay are: parsimony, openness to modification, inter-subjectivity, generality, empirical verification, determinism, specificity and logicality.

The relationship between physical or natural sciences and social sciences is correlated since they share the same rules / laws, regulations and guidelines. In research, the investigator or researcher seeks maximum deducing power of as little variables as possible without adding complexity or complication to the experiment or research. This process is known as ensuring parsimony. For example, some people suspect that crop circles are due in some way to extraterrestrial influence, whether directly or otherwise. Others suggest that the patterns are the work of dedicated artists or hoaxers and very much an earthly occurrence. On the face of it, then, especially given that the latter group has been able to demonstrate the construction of a crop circle, there is no need to imagine aliens to account for why farmer’s fields are routinely invaded in this fashion. If we wish to hold to economy of thought, we should pick the simpler explanation. Researchers are said to be stingy in obtaining the best results from their research or investigations because they are trying to obtain the best results possible with as little effort to do so. This criterion is important since the researcher has a tendency to be over-careful in acquiring the results desired.

In the late 15th century and the early 16th century, Amerigo Vespucci (America’s etymon), an Italian map-maker, believed that the world was a flat circular orb. Navigators and map-makers alike believed that in order to travel from their location – the Eastern Hemisphere, to the Western Hemisphere one should sail east. However, Christopher Columbus’ 1492 accidental voyage disproved this belief since he travelled due west into the Western Hemisphere. Upon his return to Spain, map-makers and navigators alike realized the importance of this discovery. It not only meant that sailors could travel due west into the Western Hemisphere and beyond into the Eastern Hemisphere, but that the earth was round or spherical. As a result of this discovery, geography – the science of the physical nature of the Earth, experienced modification. Modification or change is not always readily accepted in any theory since it implies that other ostensibly sound theories could change. However, no social or scientific theory may endure indefinitely.

Another important criterion proposed by Babbie is inter-subjectivity. When a researcher is about to conduct a study or investigation, they scrutinize the results obtained by other researchers in the experiment and in the same field or subject matter. Based on the results accomplished by another, they formulate the foundation or basic guideline of their research. In other words, they undergo an investigation with the expectation to replicate the same or similar results based on the subject matter of the research as a starting point according to the details provided. An example of inter-subjectivity is...
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