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Foundations of Empirical Analysis Dr. Syed Rifaat Hussain Professor and Chair Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University.

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Presentation on theme: "Foundations of Empirical Analysis Dr. Syed Rifaat Hussain Professor and Chair Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Foundations of Empirical Analysis Dr. Syed Rifaat Hussain Professor and Chair Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University

2 What is empirical analysis? Empiricism as a philosophy of science Key Tenets: 1. Sensory experience is the foundation of all knowledge. 2. Correspondence theory of truth – all knowledge claims are reducible to sensory experience. Reality exists independent of our senses but can only be known through them.

3 What is empirical analysis? The most trustworthy form of knowledge is that which is observable and testable. Mental objects have empirical referents. Ideas are about things and objects that can be observed or inferred from experience. Which cannot be seen or observed is either metaphysical or an illusion.

4 Empiricism Empiricism goes back to the writings of the 17 th and 18 th centuries, and directly associated with the work of Francis Bacon, John Locke and David Hume. Empiricism takes the view that knowledge come through experience mediated through the senses, and that insight can only be achieved through pure experiences.

5 Empiricism… It assigns a high value to experience and gives primacy to facts. Hence, Observation and experience offer the basis of knowledge. For Hume ( ), opinions are reflections of our impressions of reality. In a more radical form (logical empiricism), empiricism argues that only things that can be verified empirically exist. What cannot be verified does not exist; truths that are not based on experience are meaningless.

6 Empiricism vs Rationalism Rationalism: mind has innate qualities and is capable of knowing the truth a priori. Mind is tabula rasa “ a white paper” to use Mill’s term and its impressions are derived from objects external to it. Mind does have the capacity to weave complex ideas from simple ones but cannot generate ideas of its own accord.

7 What is science Kenneth Hoover: “Science is neither technology, nor particular people working as scientists, nor a body of knowledge but a process of thinking and asking questions…Science is really a matter of figuring out relationships between things we know something about. To propose a relationship is a creative and imaginative act, however much systematic preparation may lie in the background. To test a proposition against reality involves a different order of imagination – mainly the ability to find in the bits and pieces of information elicited from reality the one item that is essential to testing the credibility of a particular idea.” (2001: 1-7).

8 What is scientific research “Scientific research is systematic, controlled, empirical, and critical investigation of hypothetical propositions about the presumed relations among phenomena.” (p. 11)

9 Postulates of Science All behavior is naturally determined Man is part of the natural world Nature is orderly and regular Nature changes slowly All observable phenomena are eventually knowable Truth is relative to the existing body of knowledge The world is perceived through our senses Our perceptions, memory and reasoning are to be trusted - senses are relatively reliable agencies for acquiring facts. Sense experience requires judgements.

10 What is Scientific Method? It is a method of analysis, deals with observable phenomena. It is objective, logical and systematic. Objectives are to describe, explain, and predict phenomena Description (answers the question of who, what, where, when or how much) Explanation (answers “why” type of questions) Prediction (answers what will happen type of questions)

11 What is scientific method? Kenneth Hoover: The identification of the variables to be studied A hypothesis about the relation of one variable to another or to a situation A reality test whereby changes in the variables are measured to see if the hypothesized relationship is evidenced.

12 Kenneth Hoover… An evaluation in which the measured relationship between the variables is compared with the original hypothesis, and generalizations about the findings are developed. Suggestions about the theoretical significance of the findings, factors involved in the test that may have distorted the results, and other hypothesis that the inquiry brings to mind

13 Features of scientific mehtod The goal is inference: “Scientific research is designed to make descriptive or explanatory inferences on the basis of empirical information about the world. Careful description of specific phenomena are often indispensable to scientific research, but the accumulation of facts alone is not sufficient. Facts can be collected (by qualitative or quantitative researchers) more or less systematically,and the former is obviously better than the latter, but our particular definition of science requires the additional step of attempting to infer beyond the immediate data to something broader that is not directly observed. That something may involve descriptive inference – using observations from the world to learn about other unobserved facts. Or that something may involve causal inference – learning about causal effects from the data observed. The domain of inference can restricted in space and time…or it can be extensive – human behaviour since the invention of agriculture. In either case the key distinguishing mark of scientific research is the goal of making inferences that go beyond the particular observations collected.”

14 Polany (1958: 128) …We should look at the known data, but not in themselves, rather as clues to the unknown, as pointers to it and parts of it. We should strive persistently to feel our way towards and understanding of the manner in which these known particulars hang together, both mutually and with the unknown.”

15 Features of scientific method… The Procedures are public “ Scientific research uses explicit, codified, and public methods to generate and analyze data whose reliability can therefore be assessed….If the method and logic of a researcher’s observations and inferences are left implicit, the scholarly community has no way of judging the validity of what was done. We cannot evaluate the principles of selection that were used to record observations, the ways in which observations were processed, and the logic by which conclusions were drawn. We cannot learn from their methods or replicate their results. Such research is not a public act. Whether or not it makes good reading, it is not a contribution to social science.” Robert K. Merton: “The sociological analysis of qualitative data often resides in a private world of penetrating but unfathomable insights and ineffable understanding…Science is public not private.” (1968: 71-72).

16 Features of scientific method The content is the method. “Scientific research adheres to a set of rules of inference on which its validity depends. Explicating the most important rules is a major task of scientific enterprise. The content of “science” is primarily the methods and rules, not the subject matter, since we can use these methods to study virtually anything. This point was recognized over a century ago when Karl Pearson (1892: 16) explained that the “field of science is unlimited; its material is endless; every group of natural phenomena, every phase of social life, every stage of past or present development is material for science. The unity of all science consists alone in its method, not in its material.”

17 Anti-social science arguments Experimentation is not feasible in social science Quantification is impossible in social science Science is nomothetic (deals with generalizations)and social and political world is ideographic (unique, singular) social science cannot be scientific Social and political phenomena are too complex to yield law-like generalizations. Investigation of social behavior may alter that behavior Social science cannot be conducted objectively due to our values. Social world changes as we study it.

18 Four-fold classification of social reality The Actual - what was or is known through the method of description. The Possible – What can be known through the method of theoretical speculation. The Probable – What will be, known through the method of prediction. The Desirable – What ought to be known through the method of ethical or valuational or normative reflection. These four categories correspond to history, art, science, and philosophy.

19 Key Elements of empirical analysis Concepts - observables Variables – indicators and operational definitions Hypothesis Laws Theories Falsification Verification.

20 Hypothesis A hypothesis is a conjectural statement of the relation between two or more variables. Hypothesis are always in declarative sentence form and they relate variables to variables. Two features of hypothesis are noteworthy: one, they are statements about the relations between variables. Two, they carry clear implications for testing the stated relations.

21 What is a theory? James Dougherty: “At the simplest level a theory is a general explanation of certain selected phenomena set forth in a manner satisfactory to some one acquainted with the characteristics of the reality being studied…it is a way of organizing our knowledge so that we can ask questions worth answering, guide our research toward valid answers, and integrate our knowledge with that of related fields.” (p. 20).

22 Fred. N. Kerlinger “A theory is a set of interrelated constructs (concepts), definitions, and propositions that a present a systematic view of phenomena by specifying relations among variables, with the purpose of explaining and predicting the phenomena.” (p. 9)

23 What is a theory? A theory is a symbolic construction, a series of interrelated hypotheses together with definitions, laws, theorems and axioms. A theory sets forth a systematic view of phenomena by presenting a series of propositions or hypotheses which specify relations among variables in order to present explanations and make predictions about the phenomena.

24 Functions of theory Description Explanation Prediction

25 Three conceptualizations of Theory 1. Theory as an ordering framework which permits observational data to be use for predicting and explaining empirical events. Theory as conceptualization, in which to theorize means to prescribe a particular way of conceptualizing something. Theory is also often interchangeably with hypothesis or explanation.

26 Quincy Wright “A general theory of international relations means a comprehensive, coherent, and self- correcting body of knowledge contributing to the understanding, the prediction, the evaluation, and the control of relations among states and of the conditions of the world.”

27 Levels of Analysis in International Relations International System State Individual Personality perceptions activities choices Alliances Intergovernmental organizationsMultinational corporations National Interest Interest Groups Government Economy International norms/rules

28 Hypothesized Interrelationships among three levels of Analysis PrimarySecondaryTertiary GlobalRegionalNation State GlobalNation StateRegional Level RegionalGlobalNation State RegionalNation StateGlobal Nation StateRegional LevelGlobal Nation StateGlobal LevelRegional Level

29 Systemic aggregation continuum Time continuum Sources that tend to change slowly Sources that tend to undergo repaid change Systemic sources Great power structure Alliances Situational factors: external Issue areas Crises Size Geography Technology Societal sourcesCulture and History Social structure Moods of opinion Situational factors: internal Governmental sources Political accountability Governmental structure Idiosyncratic sources Values, talents, experience, and personalities of leaders Economic development

30 Interpretation: intentionality A Twitch and a Wink: “two boys rapidly contracting the eyelids of their right eyes. In one, this is an involuntary twitch; in the other, a conspiratorial signal to a friend. The two movements as movements are identical. Yet the difference is huge….the winker is communicating, in a precise and special way…

31 A Twitch and a wink 1) deliberately, 2) to some one in particular, 3) to impart a particular message, 4) according to a socially established code, and 5)without cognizance of the rest of the company…the winker has done two things, contracted his eyelids and winked, while the twitcher has done only one, contracted his eyelids. Contracting your eyelids on purpose when there exists a public code in which doing so counts as conspiratorial signal is winking.

32 What does this mean? This essentially means that without the concept of winking, given meaning by a theory of communication, the most precise quantitative study of “eyelid contracting by human beings” would be meaningless for students of social relations.

33 Psathas (1968: 510) “any behaviour by focusing only on that part which is overt and manifested in concrete, directly observable acts is naïve, to say the least. The challenge to the social scientist who seeks to understand social reality, then, is to understand the meaning that the actor has for him.”


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