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Research of Knowledge Paradigms: Positivism and Realism (Essay Sample)


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Exam No.B159048
Course Code: REDU11046
The Sources of Knowledge
Course Organiser: Dr Gale Macleod
Workshop Tutor: Malcoln Thorburn-Workshop-16
Number of words (excluding references):2323
Date: 17/11/2019
In the recent past there has been a lot of focus towards qualitative research hence embracement of realism as opposed to quantitative research that has had its bases on positivism (Wiltshire, 2018). However, despite the general acceptance there has been scanty information on research application which will lay a bases for the current analysis. The review will look at Ontology and epistemology of the two paradigm. Then realism will be used for extensive analysis of the rest of the report.
Part A
Comparing and Contrasting Between Realism and Positivism Ontology and Epistemology
Philosophy paradigm have been used to explain reality. With this regard Ontology is seen as what is perceived as real and factual. On the other hand epistemology has been seen as what is true. This has been actualised through qualitative and quantitative research (Wiltshire, 2018).
Realism has been built on the premise that entities exist independently despite our perceived theoretical understanding. It is the accurate, detailed and thus attempts to present subject matter truthfully, without artificiality and avoid artistic conventions. Hence the world exist without the influence of researchers. Roy Bhaskar explained realism which is that there is multi-level reality external to us, and our knowledge of it is shaped by our political, social context, historical and culture, which may generate qualitative or quantitative data. He also mentioned that research aims to explain – identifying the causal effects of underlying mechanisms (Bhaskar, R, 2013). Therefore, the theories are composed of real phenomenon that result to a perceived sense on the part of human beings. Realism has been looked at from emergent realism, natural, agential, experimental, critical, and constructive (Howell, 2013). All of the approaches argue that we cannot be certain about existence of items in the world and thus phenomenon have different approaches from which they can be described (Maxwell, 2012). It is therefore argued that one could be on ontological level and be an epistemological interpretive. Therefore, the world could be interpreted from different perspectives rather than from a straight forward arena (Guba & Lincoln, 2005). Realist hold that the world exist independent of people perceived thought (ontological realism). They also recognise existence of epistemological constructivism where they embrace that understanding of existence of the world is based on own perspectives. Realists’ build on epistemological views while arguing that phenomenon are constructed (Wiltshire, 2018).
On the other hand positivist is built on theoretical concepts and views. Positivist philosophy restricts the object of scientific knowledge to matters that can be verified by observation, and thus excludes from its domain all matters of an a priori, metaphysical nature. Positivism accepted the breakdown of the great metaphysical systems of the eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries and the resulting decadence of metaphysical jurisprudence as an established fact. Positivism transplanted schematically the highly refined positivist method of formalist and conceptualist interpretation into the domain of international law. It is built on a system that can be scientifically verified or capable of mathematical proof. Therefore believe that societies are based on scientific laws and principles. Positivists argue that theoretical terms and concepts are simply logically constructed (Aliyu, et al, 2014). Therefore, based on factious predictions and thus no reality attachment. The anthology bases has been empiricism, naïve realism and logical realism. The epistemology has been laid on bases of objectivity. Therefore, argue that there is a single reality. It has therefore had a lot of application in quantitative research (Howell, 2013). Positivist argue that the information provided should be accurate and free from bias. Ontologically, they belief that all facts available can be proved and epistemologically the reality for all is the same. Therefore, knowledge from science is true thus no independence of reality from research as demonstrated by realists (Wiltshire, 2018). Therefore, it lies its hypothesis under the foundationalism approach. Epistemologically, positivist belief that researchers and the world are two separate entities therefore the world would exist without scientist (Fuller, 2002). However, ontologically, the researchers help discover the worlds reality through empirical review. Therefore its naïve realism assumption shows that the world is as we see it (Guba & Lincoln, 2005).
Realism is different from positivism in many aspects. For instance realism is able to integrate both ontological realism and epistemological constructivism (Maxwell, 2012). In addition, realists reject use of theoretical concepts which are the foundational bases for positivists. Also the positivist consent is highly discredited by philosophy while realism is highly recognised. Also realists view theoretical concepts to be attached to real phenomenon and features in the world (Danermark, 1997; Guba & Lincoln, 2005). The realists also believe that features like the mental state though not observable are part of the real world which is highly objected by the positivists. The relists view metal and physical entities to be equally real although conceptualised by different frameworks (Howell, 2013).
Despite having major opposing views, they have both agreed on the use of causality in their deliberations. However, positivist have used causality as an operationalized concept to assess association between variables. On the other hand realists view causality as a reality to help explain existence in the world. Therefore, a lot of critical realists have rejected the theory of causality as used by positivists (Wiltshire, 2018). Also while positivist looks at causality to offer relationships between variables, realists look at mechanisms which are evaluated as real phenomenon.
Realism has been built on the assumption that the phenomenon is built on fundamentals rather than on superficial (Zamora, & Faris, 1995). In addition, it has relativist epistemology and adapts the relist ontology which shows commitment to existence of reality (Maxwell, 2012). Relists have also made application of ecumenical approach. Therefore a lot of realists have coined their ideas and definitions around ontological realism integrated with epistemological constructivism. Therefore, acknowledging existence of phenomenon independently as well as recognising that the existence is perceived from own conceptualisation (Fox, 2008). The debates have been narrowing with some seeing realism as an advancement of positivism.
Part B
Position of Realism within Recent Research Debates
Debates about scientific realism are closely connected to almost everything else in the philosophy of science, for they concern the very nature of scientific knowledge. Scientific realism is a positive epistemic attitude toward the content of our best theories and models, recommending belief in both observable and unobservable aspects of the world described by the sciences. This epistemic attitude has important metaphysical and semantic dimensions, and these various commitments are contested by a number of rival epistemologies of science, known collectively as forms of scientific antirealism. In the 20th Cc that is filled with industrialisation, globalisation, and technological advancements, a lot of people have ignored the essence of realism. There has been a lot debated on realism especially with the raised level of ignorance in its applicability (Maxwell, 2012). For over 30 years, realism has been a philosophical foundational theory. However, there has been a lot of unresolved issues that realists have disagreed about. Some of the serious debates have been coined around having a real world, having realism as a main theory but due to divisions it has appeared as a minority theory, and interaction in world items. In addition, there has been conflicting debates as to where the realism theory is anchored and to which concepts it refer (Wiltshire, 2018).
The works of Roy Bhaskar on critical realists has been critiqued heavily and many researchers have taken bits of his review while criticizing other parts. Critical realism, experimental realism, and constructive and emergent realism have been the recant updates in the realism field. However, they all agree that phenomenon in the world could be debated about because there exists information asymmetry and thus the incompleteness creates room for use of realism (Danermark, 1997; Howell, 2013).
Therefore, critical realists hold ontological perspective where they argue that there is a real world that exist independent of our perceptions (Llewellyn, 2017). They also recognise existence of epistemological constructivism arguing that understanding is developed from own reasoning (Howell, 2013). Therefore, there is no possibility of having one single understanding. In recent reviews realism approach has been widely accepted by the naïve realism and the constructivist. It has also been argued that all scientist lay their foundation under an epistemological view as well as building on ideology (Maxwell, 2012).
Arguments that the world objects are seen to be independent in researc...

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