On the Rhetorics of Social Science: Let's Not Conflate Natural Science and Human Science


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Abstract

The thesis that all forms of science are rhetorical is taken up with respect to social science. It is pointed out that, although the natural science approach to social science continues to prevail, it is now being challenged by qualitative research as a methodological instantiation of the human science of Dilthey and Wundt. It is argued that the rhetorics of these two approaches to social science are fundamentally different, that this difference is difficult for gatekeepers in the mainstream to assimilate and that there is thus a tendency to absorb the rhetoric of human science into that of natural science. It is also argued that there are several views within the human science community on the appropriate rhetoric of human science. Practically, these tensions have led to a proposal of guidelines for the publishability of qualitative research. Implications of this development are discussed.

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