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What is Epistemology in Research

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❶It suggests a more empirical approach to the subject as a whole—leaving behind philosophical definitions and consistency arguments, and instead using psychological methods to study and understand how knowledge actually forms and is used in the natural world. Nyaya theory distinguishes between know p and know that one knows p —these are different events, with different causal conditions.

What is Epistemology in Research

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The Paideia Project - Contains hundreds of philosophy papers online. CogPrints - contains a huge number of papers in philosophy and in cognitive science. Papers Presented to the Philosophy of Science Association - contains over 60 papers in philosophy of science. Research Seminar on Language and Philosophy of Mind - contains several papers by some of the top people in the field. Front for the Mathematics Archive - Logic - contains papers in logic.

The Logic Group Preprint Series. Memetics Publications on the Web - an extensive set of links to papers. Philosophy of Language Links - online papers in philosophy of language! EpistemeLinks Epistemology Page - contains links to several sites, plus a list of relevant online encyclopedia entries, etc. Vagueness - includes many online articles on vagueness and the Sorites Paradox, assembled by Justin Needle.

Keith DeRose has a partially annotated bibliography of contextualism online, including some links to online articles. Keith DeRose's The Epistemology Page also contains an alphabetical bibliography of epistemology papers published since The Selection Theory Bibliography , organized by author, contains contains mostly references to work in evolutionary epistemology. It was created by Gary Cziko and Donald Campbell. The Reformed Epistemology Bibliography , by Michael Sudduth, is divided into ten sub-categories, and works are listed in chronological order.

Ronald Chrisley has created a bibliography of non-conceptual content , with links to some papers online. John Sutton has a Philosophy of Memory bibliography, much of which is at an introductory level. Andrew Chrucky has a bibliography of theory of knowledge , mostly listing books from the s and s.

Alex Byrne's Bibliography of Color and Philosophy. Also available from David Hilbert, plus a Glossary of color science terms. The ERG Bibliography includes a suggested core library, books for teaching epistemology, etc. There are thousands of bookstores around the world which have their catalogs of used books online, but searching each of these is impractical.

However, it is sometimes useful to be able to contact particular stores which specialize in philosophy books. I have linked three of the largest of these here.

Fortunately, there are meta-search engines for such stores. For example, one of the largest of these, Abebooks , lists over million books from over 13, independent used-book stores around the world. You can search such databases by keyword, author, title, subject, publisher, price, binding, country, etc. Better yet, there are meta-meta search engines. Perhaps the largest of these is Bookfinder. You might've seen this one before.

Paraphrasing in a cut-and-paste world. Some of our favourite British words. The story of an imaginary word that managed to sneak past our editors and enter the dictionary.

How we chose 'feminism'. How to use a word that literally drives some people nuts. The awkward case of 'his or her'. Test your visual vocabulary with our question challenge! Build a city of skyscrapers—one synonym at a time. Explore the year a word first appeared. Philosophers call the study of knowledge epistemology , and this approach to design is entirely epistemological.

Scientific knowledge examines only that reality it has previously created as knowable and defined as its object. It limits itself and restricts the possibility of gaining knowledge of what cannot yet be known because it is beyond the legitimated ways of knowing. Its institutional control operates throughout research development and reaches not only researchers, by determining their options, but also their objects of analysis, by specifying what is "valid" to be known.

So called "knowledge" is, therefore, none other than the result of current convention in the world of science, usually associated with the ontology and epistemology characteristic of positivism. Nevertheless, the latter is just one among various possible means of knowledge production.

Among the questions underlying and motivating this paper are the following: Are the so called qualitative research legitimacy and representation crises not related, then, to the survival of a realistic ontology in the construction of the "other" in scientific texts? How do qualitative researchers sort out the tension between the supposed "objectivity" that so-called scientific knowledge requires and both the participant actors' and their own "subjectivity"?

Is it possible to have access to the participant's identity in qualitative research without calling for an ontological rupture? How are researchers' ontological and epistemological assumptions related to the quality of their research? As with any other form of knowing, rather than being exclusive, it complements the Epistemology of the Knowing Subject in which I place such paradigms.

Epistemology raises many questions including: It makes up a persistent, creative activity that is renewed time and again. Social sciences require that particular epistemological reflections are approached from characteristic theoretical developments and empirical research practice. Such reflections, that are present in scientists' practical activity, even though they may not be named as such, are closely linked with the elucidation of the paradigms in force in the production of every discipline.

The notion of paradigm, generated as a consequence of observing the development of a given area of knowledge KUHN, , is not applicable to other areas. The answers to questions arising from epistemological reflection in the context of a given science do not constitute the kind of a priori knowledge scientific research employs in the remaining sciences.

These questions result from the knowledge heritage of each discipline in relation to daily research practice. I therefore understand that it is not possible to think about a one and only epistemology for all scientific disciplines, or even for a same and particular one.

Epistemological reflection is what enables us to elucidate the different paradigms which give different answers to the questions raised by epistemology. As a result of epistemological reflection on social sciences in general, and sociology in particular, I conclude that there are three main coexisting paradigms, two of them already established: Such paradigms, emerging from established theoretical perspectives, have different ontological, epistemological and, consequently, methodological assumptions; so much so that evolution or reflection produced in one of them is not applicable as such to the others.

Likewise, those paradigms are, more often than not, at the basis of the interpretive models used by the speakers to describe social reality. The development of the social sciences is not, then, progressive in the sense of "one theory replacing another" KUHN, , p. Accumulation, reformulation, improvement and updating of such theories is produced within each paradigm and their appearance is associated with the presence of relevant social events, such as the industrial revolution, which the two, so far, most forcefully established paradigms in these sciences, i.

The acceptance of such co-presence develops hand in hand with the need for different methods, set in those various paradigms, to grasp "the complex and multi-faceted" nature of reality rather than to guarantee findings validity MORAN-ELLIS et al. These three paradigms I have referred to, and that coexist in social sciences, make up what I call the Epistemology of the Knowing Subject.

This kind of epistemology focuses on subjects that know, spatially and temporally located in their theoretical-epistemological background and methodological tools. These subjects, supplied with those cognitive resources, approach the subjects that are being known and the situations they are in. Those subjects may be understood by assuming, or not, that their characteristics are identifiable with those of an external, objective and objectifiable element, depending on whether the knower's perspective is close to or far away from the positivist paradigm.

So, the closer the knowing subjects' orientation to the interpretive paradigm, the shorter the distance between them and those other subjects who are being known.

Nevertheless, a distance between the knower and the known, rendering the former "an impartial observer and the other to be subject to the observer's gaze" SAVAGE, , p. The Epistemology of the Known Subject I propose does not stem from pure speculation, but from an attempt to approach, with the theoretical-methodological contributions of the three mentioned coexisting paradigms, the study of extreme poverty in the city of Buenos Aires, with a focus on people who define their home address as "on the streets," comparing them to that group of families with precarious accommodation who run the risk of losing it and being also left homeless or "on the streets" 1.

For the Epistemology of the Known Subject, one condition of scientific knowledge is for subjects not to be seen as objects but as subjects, subjects whose ontological reality differs from what the previous epistemology, that of the knowing subject, assumed.

For the Epistemology of the Known Subject, the reluctance of researchers to see the subjects participating in the knowledge process as objects is not based on the fact of having a different view of the ontological nature of social reality, but on the fact of claiming different ontological characteristics in relation to the human being's identity. This identity has two components: The former is common to all human beings, is the foundation of their dignity, and constitutes what makes them equal.

The latter constitutes the differential aspect, distinguishing each human being from the others and making each individual unique.

Thus, for instance, in a given context, a person's social, political and work identity would represent expressions of the existential component of their identity. Both identity components need to be known; you cannot know one through the other.

For example, the essential component cannot be known through the existential one, as is the case when identity characteristics end up being assimilated to those of the situation in which the person is acting. Although knowing people cannot be isolated from knowing their situation, for the Epistemology of the Known Subject the person and the situation belong in two different orders of knowledge, and each has its codes, its assumptions, its ways of giving evidence, its legitimacy, its ontology and, therefore, its epistemology.

This statement has a fundamental bearing on the whole research process, from the purpose and research question to the definition of analysis units; from sampling decisions to the options on data analysis strategies and, likewise, on the possibility of resorting to triangulation, since it could well be asked: The Epistemology of the Known Subject is not a finished product nor does it aim at substituting the Epistemology of the Knowing Subject.

On the contrary, the Epistemology of the Known Subject is in the making as a result of applying qualitative methods. It raises a voice where the Epistemology of the Knowing Subject is silent, restricting, mutilating, or limiting. It tries to prevent the voice of the known subject from disappearing behind that of the knowing subject; that is, becoming distorted by having been translated by the "codes" of socially admitted ways of knowing.

The Epistemology of the Knowing Subject and the Epistemology of the Known Subject become complementary, without excluding each other, in the Meta-epistemology I propose and whose characteristics are as follows: Qualitative research comprises different orientations and approaches, various intellectual and disciplinary traditions grounded, often, in different philosophical assumptions.

All these different orientations, approaches and assumptions generate new data-gathering and analysis strategies. This variety of views on what is known, what may be known, how it is known and on the way findings are to be transmitted demands an acknowledgment that there is not one legitimate way to conduct qualitative research.

However, it is important to highlight that, in spite of such differences there is also a whole group of marked similarities when it comes to designing the features of qualitative research. These similarities revolve around their salient characteristics, which will be specified by returning to the path of epistemological reflection [ 24 ].

A systematization of the ever increasing contributions that have tried to define and, at the same time, characterize qualitative research enables those characteristics to be grouped according to: Qualitative research is interested, in particular, in the way in which the world is "understood, experimented, or produced" MASON, , p. It makes use of flexible analysis and explanation methods, sensitive to both the studied people's special features and the social context in which data is produced MASON, , p.

It focuses on real, located practice, and it is based on an interactive research process involving both the researcher and the social actors FLICK, , p. Qualitative research seeks to "discover the new and to develop empirically grounded theories" FLICK, , p. It attempts at understanding, at making the individual case significant in the context of the theory, it opens up new perspectives on what is known.

It "explains, defines, clarifies, elucidates, illuminates," constructs, and discovers MORSE, , p. It develops valid causal descriptions analyzing how certain events have an influence on others, and understanding cause-effect processes in a local, contextualized, placed way MAXWELL, b, p. A deep analysis of the mentioned characteristics enables me to sort them into two relevant groups.

Those two groups identify the purpose of qualitative research, which determines the distinctiveness of its method:. If qualitative research were carried out, for instance, on documents, on specific textual corpus or pictures, it would be the people's features and their actions, the productions and situations they develop or have developed, and their existence in those which would be examined to answer the research question in order to continue the analysis on the basis of those features.

To get on with the epistemological reflection I have presented so far, it is necessary to remember that the two groups of qualitative research features, defined as the most relevant, do not belong to the same order.

It is on social actors, their senses, perspectives, meanings, actions, productions, works, and achievements that qualitative research is focused. The person is, then, the vital nucleus of this kind of inquiry and it is those characteristics referring to the people that constitute the primary characteristics , those which are fundamental to qualitative research.

On the other hand, it is the characteristics referring to the context, to the situation in which senses are created, perspectives are defined, and meanings are constructed, which make up the secondary characteristics of qualitative research, because what matters is the person, but the person placed in a given context.

Actors and their situations can hardly be separated in the studies undertaken by social sciences, but it is necessary to establish, at this point, their different ontological condition. As already stated, people cannot be known other than in their context, but they cannot be known through their context.

This cognitive assumption, so dear to deterministic theories, deprives the people of action and therefore, of freedom and autonomy by means of a mechanism: The different paradigms, which I placed within the Epistemology of the Knowing Subject, have different ontological assumptions.

That is, they determine the particular nature of what is to be known, so much so that they propose different methods for knowing and different validation criteria to assess research quality. In other words, the various philosophical assumptions and theoretical orientations influence qualitative research in such different ways that they are bound to generate "contrasting set of criteria for judging the quality and credibility" QUINN PATTON, , p.

According to its characteristics, what is to be primarily known by qualitative research is the person; hence, the Epistemology of the Known Subject should aim at bringing about an ontological rupture as far as human beings' identity is concerned. The following question could, then, be asked: A rupture because the way of knowing proposed by the Epistemology of the Known Subject is focused on identity, but a type of identity which is, at one and the same time, essential and existential, the same and different.

That is why there is a break with previous ontological proposals regarding that identity, especially, regarding those relying on the Epistemology of the Knowing Subject. The question of who is known is here prior to the question on how it is known. Given that the person is at the core of qualitative research, and that what is turned into who , it is necessary to point out once more that that who is, for the Epistemology of the Known Subject, essentially the same although existentially different from the researcher, because the basic principle of essential equality is the foundation of that epistemology.

That surrounding world, constantly seen as the background, the arena, the permanent basis for researchers' subjective mental work, is precisely what enables them to become a topic of reflection HUSSERL, , pp. By means of the Epistemology of the Known Subject, I hereby put forward renewed ontological and epistemological foundations for qualitative research, since the ontological proposal of such epistemology is grounded in a different conception of identity.

Such conception reaches out to the various subjects that participate in cognitive interaction. Neither does it attempt to account for the multiple constructions produced in relation to this reality. Those questions are answered in different ways by the paradigms I spoke of in second section dealing with epistemological reflection and its objectives.

It could also be argued that it is the interpretive paradigm that adequately answers, in particular but not exclusively, the requirements of the secondary characteristics of qualitative research, that is, those focusing on the study of contexts and social situations.

To that effect, this paradigm leaves out the model of natural sciences, and gives an account of the constructed feature of meanings, norms, orientations, production, and reproduction of the social world through social practices, among which language is to be found.

The interpretive paradigm is, then, the foundation of qualitative research within the Epistemology of the Knowing Subject. In keeping with that kind of epistemology, the approach to the known subject is mediated, in general, by a veil woven from theoretical representations of that "other" in the various disciplines, and in relation to the current paradigmatic trends which, more often than not, coexist in the various contexts and moments in which knowledge production operates.

In this way, while studies based on this epistemology, that is, on the different paradigms that operate in social sciences, were interested in marking the differences between individuals and groups by classifying and ranking them according to those concurrent differences, the Epistemology of the Known Subject understands that those differences make up exclusively the existential aspect of identity and that singling them out must, inevitably, be accompanied by the indication of the essential, common aspect of that identity 2.

Acceptance of the principle of essential equality is a necessary condition for cognitive interaction to take place in the research process, and without that interaction cooperative knowledge construction cannot occur. The path of epistemological reflection leads us, in this way, first from the object to the subject and then from the different subject to the same, but different subject or, what amount to the same, from the existential component to the two components of identity.

In other words, it leads us from the Epistemology of the Knowing Subject to the Epistemology of the Known Subject and from the latter to meta-epistemology, because both identity components must be known without either of them being left out. For the Epistemology of the Known Subject the relationship between this subject and the knowing person is egalitarian. This statement represents a challenge to the traditional ways of knowing since for them knowers know insofar as they apply the rules, notions and strategies of the so called "scientific knowledge.

If this is so, how can the participant actors prevent his identity from being denied, distorted, or ignored? The danger of such technical versions is that they may, inadvertently, reinforce and uphold some actors' world views and overshadow others'.

In this fashion, social researchers have to consider the consequences that their theoretical background, which take certain descriptive social categories for granted, may bring about. Thus, from the perspective of the Epistemology of the Known Subject, questions such as the following could be asked: Likewise, accepting the current value of certain theories that "'establish' the relevance of class, gender, race, etc.

So, names construct and reify human bonds and social divisions, are rooted in actions and give rise to specific practices CHARMAZ, , p.


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Epistemology in a business research as a branch of philosophy deals with the sources of knowledge. Specifically, epistemology is concerned with possibilities, nature, sources and limitations of knowledge in the field of study.

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epistemology First of all, you should realize that research is only one of several ways of "knowing." The branch of philosophy that deals with this subject is called EPISTEMOLOGY.

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Epistemology is a common term that is used in the field of research. It is imperative to know what epistemology is before you start on a research project. The purpose of this paper is to describe the most relevant features of qualitative research in order to show how, from the Epistemology of the Known Subject perspective I propose, it is necessary to review first the ontological and .

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This paper the researcher constructs the epistemological issues which normally arise when any research methodology is applied in practice rather than . The Epistemology Research Guide. My aim here has been to provide a convenient list of resources for those working in contemporary analytic epistemology.