Nature of Science in Social Work

Topics: Scientific method, Science, Social sciences Pages: 5 (1419 words) Published: April 25, 2013
Scientific Inquiry in Health and Human Services

Nature of Science in Social Work
Summary of Feminism and Political Philosophy

In setting out to explore various philosophies in the realm of scientific development it becomes apparent that we continuously search, build, and modify methods to further understand our world and one another. A particular philosophical notion that personally resonates with my academic and professional career in social work is— the relationship expressed between science, feminism and politics. According to Godfrey-Smith (2003), “…many began to treat science as part of a larger, multi-tentacle political structure that acts to reinforce subtle forms of exclusion and coercion” (pg. 136). Furthermore, I wish to explore how feminist philosophy accounts for gender diversity in scientific revolution. Gender equality, diversity and women’s oppression highly correlates with social sciences fields, such as social work. In an attempt to breakdown the prudent points of politics and feminism in scientific development, I will address social work and it’s contextual ties to this philosophy.

One issue worth exploring when discussing feminist philosophic scientific development is the history of women in science. Throughout the history of science there has been and oppressed depiction of women in regards to their ability to discover and associate reason or rational for scientific theories. This opinion is expressed by Godfrey-Smith stating, “the concept of reason evolved in Western philosophy in a way that associated reasonableness with maleness, and associated the female mind with a set of psychological traits that contrast with reasonableness” (pg. 138). The previous statement supports the understanding that women encountered many restrictions when initially entering the field of science, Furthermore; it is shared in feminist discussion that these oppressions still exist today. In effort to create positive change in this regard more women are required to conduct research in an effort to productively change history. Thomas S. Kuhn states, “Only a change in the rules of the game could provide an alternative” (pg. 40).

When dissecting feminist philosophy further it’s critical to review how feminists evaluate various theories throughout the science fields. To elaborate further, is has been expressed by female scientist that their interpretation of theories may be different than the male gender resulting in a distinct level of understanding when conducting research. Researcher Sarah Blaffer Hrdy (2002) conducted research on primates and concluded that, “…women researchers, like herself, did tend to empathize with female primates and watched their behaviors more closely than their male colleagues had” (Godfrey-Smith, pg. 140). Due to Hrdy’s ability to watch the female primates more closely she was able to conclude new data on female behavior. When applying Hrdy’s notion about female researchers and their ability to be more conscientious of their own gender, it makes me ponder the other findings women have discovered due to an innately different perspective/reality. Kuhn shares similar sentiments informing readers that, “…with scientific observation, the scientist can have no recourse to which his visions might be shown to have shifted, that authority itself would become the source of data along with the behavior of his visions…” (Kuhn, pg. 114). I do find it mildly ironic and humorous that Kuhn always refers to a scientist in the male gender throughout his text.

In addition, it’s important to review epistemology when analyzing feminist philosophy. There are several views and types of feminist epistemology worth discussing however; I’d like to touch upon the most influential to my work, as a social worker is—standpoint epistemology. “Standpoint theory holds that are some facts which are only visible from a special point of view, the point of view of people who have been oppressed or “marginalized” by...

References: Godfrey-Smith, Peter. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science: Theory and Reality. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
Kuhn, Thomas S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 3rd edition. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
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