Question winfred Social Sciences

Non-scientific research is argumentative and can lead to conflict. Discuss

Non-scientific research is argumentative and can lead to conflict. Discuss

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Non-scientific research is that which uses means including intuition, reflection, experience and belief in order to determine conclusions (Potter, 2000). This contrasts with scientific research, which proves or disproves hypotheses using established methodologies (Potter, 2000). Scientific research is typically replicable, unlike non-scientific research (Potter, 2000). This is not say, however, that non-scientific research is of no value: indeed, it is capable of developing meaning and depth, and much of Freud’s psychological research was conducted using non-scientific means (Guttmann and Scholz-Strasser, 1988). Frankl (1988) notes, however, that Freud’s findings differed appreciably from those of other psychologists to the extent that psychologists argue about them to this day, and adhere to various “schools.” The indication from the discipline of psychology is that non-scientific research is, indeed, argumentative and capable of provoking conflict. A contemporary example that illustrates how non-scientific research provokes argument leading to conflict may be found in the current fashionable notion of “intelligent design,” a pseudo-science that attempts to reconcile fundamentalist Christian theology with Darwinian evolution (Boudry, Blanke and Braeckman, 2010). This primarily U.S. phenomenon, despite its attempt to accommodate Christianity and Darwinism, has provoked argument and conflict within the scientific, religious and political spheres largely due to its non-scientific basis in narrow belief, tradition and personal intuition (Potter, 2000). Thoughtful non-scientific research, such as ethnography, acknowledges its argumentative nature whilst conceding that argument has a role to play in research (Potter, 2000). Conclusions drawn from traditional beliefs, intuition, reflection and experience may in isolation be found to be unreliable and invalid: however, argument about them offers researchers opportunities to discover new perspectives, meaning and depth. Arising conflict, however, may be less fruitful.


Boudry, M., Blanke, S. and Braeckman, J. (2010) “Irreducible incoherence and intelligent design: a look into the conceptual toolbox of a pseudoscience” in The Quarterly Review of Biology, 85 (4), pp. 473-482
Frankl, V. (1988) The Will to Meaning, London: Penguin
Guttmann, G. and Scholz-Strasser, I. (1988) Freud and the Neurosciences, Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences
Potter, G. (1000) The Philosophy of Social Science, Abingdon: Routledge