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Philosophical and theoretical foundations of social science | b.ed notes


Philosophical and theoretical foundations of social science


Human nature is a social nature. An important philosophical question is what does it mean to be human? About which philosophers have been thinking about the theoretical characteristics of society since ancient times. 

In the 19th century, anthropology, sociology, economics and psychology were separated from philosophy. 

Along with the emergence of applied subjects, philosophical questions related to social science emerge here. Which can be explored only by staying within the social sciences. 


The philosophical perspective of the social sciences examines some of the perennial questions of philosophy through the empirical study of human society. 

Under the philosophical perspective of social science, those eternal questions are being kept within three big topics: 

Normativity, Naturalism, Reductionism. The question of criteria is related to value in social scientific research.


Social science is closely related to the context related to social policy, so social science can be an objective subject. 

Social science presents the origin of norms, rules and values ​​within the human society and its functions in the form of theory. 

The question of naturalism can be related to nature and social science. The methods used in social science are different from the methods used in natural science but they are not weak in any case. 

The question of reduction asks how the individual is attached to the social structure.


In the philosophical perspective of social science, the question is that what is the place of man in the universe? What is the source of values? How is human nature related to non-human nature? what do we know? 

Responding to these philosophical themes is also a contribution to the theoretical inquiry of the social sciences.

The basis of study in social science is also philosophical. Amidst the increasing importance of science and scientific method, the question arises on its neutrality whether social behavior can be defined on the basis of neutrality. 


The use of scientific method in social science has to be reconsidered, because human behavior is linked to human values. 

The study of human behavior cannot be done in neutrality considering it as valueless. 

The real conclusion of social studies can be found only by defining the meaning of social action, language and values.


The social sciences have developed their own methods of dealing with facts in an objective and systematic manner. 

These methods differ from those used in the natural sciences. But this does not mean that the social scientist is any more free than the natural scientist to apply his own common sense or his own personal preference to observation, interpretation and analysis of relevant facts, even if Be it teaching or research.


Development and trends of social science as a school subject. Today social science subjects are being taught in some form or the other in schools across the country. 

Earlier this was generally not the case before independence. The education of sociology, political science and even economics was mainly confined to universities and colleges. 

After independence, there was continuous expansion in the education of social science subjects and soon the demand for teaching them in schools started increasing.


The social sciences are sometimes described as policy sciences, although the contribution of disciplines such as sociology and political science to policy-making is indirect and limited. 

Anyway, aiming to make school students policy-makers or consultants in policy-making would be very impractical in itself. But how the economy, politics and society work. 

Having a general knowledge about it will help the students in their later life to understand the role of policies in public life.


This can provide them with a basis for forming an educated view about why certain policies are adopted and others are not. Also, why only some of the policies adopted are successful and why others are not.

The more important contribution of social science is not in training for policy-making but in preparing educated and intelligent citizens. 

Having an educated citizenry is essential for the good functioning of a democracy. One does not pluck the qualities of a good citizen out of thin air. 


A special kind of education is needed to acquire and promote them. To be a good citizen it is not enough just to be aware of physical and biological activities, a good citizen also needs to have an understanding of the social world of which he is a part.

The subjects that come under social science in school connect us with the past, so that we understand and appreciate how we have come to where we are now. 

These disciplines also connect us to the present through the study of the institutions that govern us, and bring the past and the present into familiar contexts, developing within us an understanding of the larger ecosystem of which we are a part. 


Social science helps us dream of creating a better world. Practical questions related to human development such as how to make cities better? How to improve the standard of living of the people? How to reduce crime rate? How to remove discrimination? How can better governance be provided? How else can productivity improve? etc. Social science is made from all these things.

Social science is taught in some form or the other in schools all over the world. Sometimes it is called Environmental Studies, as in the existing primary schools in India, sometimes it is taught up to middle school as History, Geography, Civics and then in High School as History, Geography, Economics, Political Science and Sociology. 


Nowadays in many countries it is known as civic education or social and political life, as it is in India. 

In some countries, and in some circumstances, the subject named Social Studies has also been taught and there are some ideological views which keep history and geography separate from social sciences and consider them as separate subjects. While they consider economics, political science and sociology as part of social sciences.