Alternative methods of explanation in social and humanitarian...

Alternative methods of explanation in social and humanitarian knowledge

The deductive-nomological model of explanation caused a critical attitude on the part of representatives of social and human sciences, especially historians and sociologists.

Some representatives of humanitarian knowledge argued that unique historical events, concrete actions of people in history can not be brought under general laws, which by their very nature should abstract from all concrete, private and individual. This position was shared by the representatives of Neo-Kantianism G. Rickert and V. Windelband, and also by the supporter of the philosophy of life of V. Dilthey.

This position was further developed in the philosophy of science of the XX century. Thus, the Canadian philosopher W. Dray (born 1921) declared that the task of rational historical explanation is to establish a connection between the beliefs and motivations of people, on the one hand, their actions, actions and behavior, on the other. According to W. Drey, the application of laws to explain the actions of people in society imposes the stories unnecessary determinism. According to W. Dray, historians never refer to laws and do not know that is a historical law.

Some researchers believe that the laws that can be talked about in socio-humanitarian knowledge, first, refer to individual or social psychology, and secondly, they are trivial, i.e. expressing the simplest connections; thirdly, they are known to every literate person and are for him self-evident.

Thus, K. Popper argues that in the history of "there are many trivial universal laws that we accept without proof. These laws are practically of no interest and absolutely incapable of bringing order into the subject of research. "

Since the law characterizes the general, regular, repeated in relations between objects, there is no doubt that not all individual behavior can be brought under the law. Nevertheless, the life of any society is subject to social laws, which, however, are objective in nature, > are fundamentally different from the laws of nature.

First, the laws of society manifest themselves only through the activities of people and are the expression of the results of this activity.

Secondly, the activity of people is always motivated, and in the process of activity their goals, interests and will were embodied. It is this subjective aspect of the mechanism of social laws that forms the possibility of social freedom.

Thirdly, such a variety of social laws as the laws of history are associated with great difficulties with regard to their verification in view of the impossibility of repeating events of the past.

Indeed, the laws of history are retrospective in the sense that their identification is based on the empirical material of the historical past. GI Ruzavin singles out another characteristic of the laws of history, noting that they are often associated "with the individual predilections, convictions and opinions of the historian."

It is unlikely that this is true. First, individual opinions and attachments influence not only the researches of the historian, but also the specialists of other branches of science, primarily social and humanitarian ones. Secondly, the characterization of GI Ruzavin does not refer to the laws of history as such (ie, objective, repetitive, necessary connections in the system of the historical process), but to their reflection (true or false) in the historian's theoretical conclusions.

To. Hempel characterized the deductive-nomological model as the only possible scheme of explanation. In the article "Functions of general laws of history" he tried to prove that "the general laws have quite similar functions in history and in the natural sciences, that they form an integral tool of historical research". He admits that "most of the explanations offered in history or sociology can not include explicit statements about alleged general patterns."

To. Hempel agrees that sometimes these patterns or hypotheses relate to individual and social psychology and are known to everyone, and therefore are clearly not formulated. At the same time, many hypotheses and assumptions underlying the explanation are often very difficult to formulate explicitly and with sufficient accuracy. Nevertheless, - says K. Hempel, - in history, as elsewhere in the empirical sciences, the explanation of the phenomenon consists in bringing it under general empirical laws. "

To. Hempel and his co-author P. Oppenheim were against incorporating the goals and motivations of people's behavior into a historical explanation. Such goals and motives they proposed "to refer to the antecedent conditions of the motivational explanation, and, on this basis, to eliminate the formal difference between motivational and causal explanation". However, the difference between motivational and causal explanation "disappears" only from the point of view of formal logic: both explanations are described by one type of compound judgment - the conditional one, which characterizes the connection between antecedent and consequent according to the scheme:

if p, then q,

where p is a judgment characterized as antecedent - the previous judgment describing the preceding event, a q is a statement characterized as conssequent - a judgment describing a subsequent event.

However, in the content plan, the motivational and causal explanations differ significantly, and it is because of the difference between them that alternative models and methods of explanation arise.

Intentional models (from Latin intention - aspiration) are based on identifying the aspirations, intentions or motivations of the acting subjects in the explanation of history. Such models are the main task of disclosing the intentions of people. Since these models allow us to directly establish the connection between the motives and real actions of people by testing various hypotheses, these models can be used to explain the behavior of both historical figures and ordinary people. Intentional explanations find wide application in psychology, sociology, pedagogy, jurisprudence and other sciences.

Teleological explanations (from Greek telos - purpose, logos strong> - teaching) are based on the identification of the purpose, meaning and intentions in the activities of people. Such explanations were used by Aristotle in the framework of finalistic or teleological views that were intended to reveal the essence of expedient activity not only of man and living organisms, but also of inanimate phenomena.

The concept of entelechy (from the Greek entelecheia - that contains the goal) was viewed by Aristotle as a hidden goal embedded in nature. With the help of this concept, they tried to explain the transition of possibility into reality. Entelechy acted in the form of a teleological explanation, which was contrasted with a causal (causal) explanation.

Classical science of the XVII-XVIII century. sought to identify the general laws of natural science, primarily on the basis of causal explanations ( Galilean tradition). Logical positivists recognized the standard deductive-nomological model. Teleological explanations in the positivist version of the philosophy of science were considered as an auxiliary and heuristic means of research.

Thus, K. Hempel and P. Oppenheim believed that one of the reasons for using teleological explanations in biology was their fruitfulness as a heuristic means of research. However, they insisted on that in the social sciences, not less than in physical sciences, bringing under general patterns is absolutely necessary for the explanation and theoretical understanding of any phenomenon. "

In the second half of XX century. there is a revival of interest in the Aristotelian tradition of teleological explanations in historical and social-humanitarian sciences. Thus, in teleological explanations, some researchers consider the practical syllogism to be the most appropriate form, taking into account the goals and aspirations of the acting subject. The outstanding Finnish logician H.H. von Wrigt believed that " it is the practical syllogism that is the model of explanation that has been so long absent in the methodology of the human sciences and which is a genuine alternative to the model of explanation through the law. "

The structure of practical syllogism includes the following elements:

- a large premise - the purpose of the action;

- a smaller premise - a means to an end;

- conclusion - the statement that only when acting in accordance with the premises, i.e. with proper consideration of the goals and means of achieving it, one can hope for the success of the action.

The researchers note that practical syllogism is not a demonstrative reasoning, but it serves as an important tool for analyzing the explanation in the social sciences and humanities.

Functional explanations are used when it is necessary to clarify the role and function of an element or subsystem of elements in an integral system, for example, an organ in a living body or an institution or institution in system of social structure of the state.

Such an explanation is essentially an answer to the question "Why?". Functional explanations have become widely used primarily in biology. The stimulus of their development was the creation of Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory, within the framework of which it was established that expedient changes in the structures and functions of living systems can be rationally explained by adaptation, or adaptation, of the organism to changing environmental conditions.

In the XX century. A new impetus to functional explanations was the emergence of a general theory of systems and synergetics. Within the framework of these concepts, the concepts of purpose, function, purposeful development and others were used extensively for the functional explanation of complex self-organizing systems. Such systems include social and humanitarian systems. Supporters of institutionalism in sociology and economics (R. Merton, T. Parsons, etc.) use such explanations to clarify the role and functions of various institutions in the development of society. On this type of explanation, a structurally-functional analysis widely used in sociology is based.

Normative explanations are based on the identification of the role of norms as a determining factor in the behavior of people in society. The normative model of explanation is an alternative to the deductive-nomological model that dominates in the methodology of science, because it relies on precisely the established in society rules and norms. In turn, these rules and norms are fundamentally different from laws that have a regular and sustained nature by the fact that such rules and norms are established by people and are of a historical (variable) nature.

According to some researchers, the deductive-nomological model is best suited for research within the natural sciences. The behavior of people is not as rigidly determined as natural phenomena, and therefore it is advisable to use the norms and rules of society that provide freedom to a person within the limits of accepted norms for the study of human behavior.

Thus, all alternative models:

- used primarily for research in the social sciences and humanities;

- emphasize the specific features of human activities that form the system of social relations;

- explore the role and place of subjective factors, social goals and norms in historical processes

- rely on a deep relationship between explanation and understanding.

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