Several and repeated attempts have been made to say what objectivity consists of and why it should be pursued in research. In the first part of this paper two main strategies are singled out, sharing the assumption that there is a way (or different ways) objectivity can be thought of in the abstract (which does not mean without content), and that it can be instantiated in context – and in enough contexts to justify the abstract case. But not only is this assumption open to the objection that objectivity so conceived does not admit of one clear definition (even a disjunctive one) that is appropriate in many or most contexts where we intend the term to do its work. It also does not seem to pay specific attention to what actually constitutes a context of practice, when we think of objectivity in some relation to such context. The aim of this paper is to question how context works both as a mechanism of meaning formation for the concept of objectivity, and as a practical framework for pursuing research objectively. To articulate a suitable notion of context some insight from recent literature in the philosophy of science is first introduced and then adapted to show how research practices successfully achieve objectivity as one of their aims. It will be argued that an idea of context that includes activities which (in a way to be qualified) are relevant and reliable towards a settled aim is the model of practice that makes objectivity a pursuable task in research. This contextual picture of objectivity, it will be suggested, might better serve the purpose of scientific research (including social research) than either of the two descriptive strategies outlined at the beginning of this paper can do.

Finding a Context for Objectivity

Eleonora Montuschi
2020

Abstract

Several and repeated attempts have been made to say what objectivity consists of and why it should be pursued in research. In the first part of this paper two main strategies are singled out, sharing the assumption that there is a way (or different ways) objectivity can be thought of in the abstract (which does not mean without content), and that it can be instantiated in context – and in enough contexts to justify the abstract case. But not only is this assumption open to the objection that objectivity so conceived does not admit of one clear definition (even a disjunctive one) that is appropriate in many or most contexts where we intend the term to do its work. It also does not seem to pay specific attention to what actually constitutes a context of practice, when we think of objectivity in some relation to such context. The aim of this paper is to question how context works both as a mechanism of meaning formation for the concept of objectivity, and as a practical framework for pursuing research objectively. To articulate a suitable notion of context some insight from recent literature in the philosophy of science is first introduced and then adapted to show how research practices successfully achieve objectivity as one of their aims. It will be argued that an idea of context that includes activities which (in a way to be qualified) are relevant and reliable towards a settled aim is the model of practice that makes objectivity a pursuable task in research. This contextual picture of objectivity, it will be suggested, might better serve the purpose of scientific research (including social research) than either of the two descriptive strategies outlined at the beginning of this paper can do.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3739594
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