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Epistemology

 

Explanations > Social Research > Philosophies of Social Research > Epistemology

Definition | Positivist ontology | Constructionist ontology | See also

 

Definition

Epistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge, including how it is created and shared. It is concerned which what can be known and the confidence we have in knowledge.

Positivist epistemology

Positivists view knowledge as a key goal of the scientific approach and that it can only be created through controlled study and the management of facts (which are proven, true pieces of knowledge). The holy grail of positivists is the identification of generalized laws of the universe.

Constructionist epistemology

Constructionist epistemologists consider that knowledge is constructed internally rather being discovered externally. It is hence considered as complex and multiple, such that there is not 'one true knowledge' about things.

Each person has their own knowing and, although this can be shared, we each interpret what we see and hear in our own way. Knowledge is thus not a cold thing on a table but is layered with meaning.

See also

Schools of thought in Critical Theory, Personal Construct Theory, Phenomenology

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