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  • Author: Malte Ingo Meyerhuber x
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Abstract

Many people today may see empirical research (say, e. g., empirical social sciences) and normative theory (say, e. g., ethics) as two distinct fields that either have little to no relation to each other, or which, if they do, seem to be at tension constantly. The conflict both areas experience today, it is argued, can be traced back to certain historical developments, such as the advent of modern sciences. Against this background, some exemplary historical arguments, debates, and developments are highlighted. After that, two positions regarding this relation are elaborated upon more deeply. Lastly, some systemic interdependencies between the two fields are illustrated and potential influences between empirical research and normative theory are explored.

English title and abstract

Two Worlds on the Brink of Colliding. On the Relationship of Empirical Research and Normative Theory, Especially against the Background of Ethics. Many people today may see empirical research (say, e.g., empirical social research) and normative theorising (say, e.g., ethics) as two distinct fields, that either have little to no relation to each other, or which, if they do, seem to be at tension constantly. The conflict both areas experience today, it is argued, can be traced back to certain historical developments, such as the advent of modern sciences. Against this background, some exemplary historical arguments, debates and developments are highlighted. After that, two positions regarding this relation will be elaborated upon more deeply: While proponents of Platonic positions argue for a separation of the two domains, advocates of an Aristotelic position argue for their integration. Lastly, interdependencies between the two fields are illustrated, and the potential influences between empirical research and normative theory are explored, as well as their more philosophical counterparts of “is” and “ought”.

Abstract

Empirical research has the ultimate goal to inform us about the “objectively true” state of the world. This ambition especially holds for the natural sciences, but also extends to the social sciences. In the context of recent developments and theoretical discussions, the authors aim to contribute to the discussion of objectivity in empirical research from a junior researcher’s perspective, debating the influence of normative assumptions on empirical research. They analyse normative influences within the six conceptual steps of the empirical research process: (1) idea generation, (2) research funding, (3) research planning, (4) data collection, (5) data analysis, and (6) scientific output. The authors end with a summary of current directions that may help move to a more reflective, nuanced, and transparent scientific process.